Dear Porky and Buddy Pet Health – What Happens To Pets In A Divorce?

Dear Porky & Buddy,
I am going through a divorce, and I don’t want to bother you with all the sordid details, but one issue that has come up is who will get custody of the dogs.

I have two sweet little Corgis, Annette and Bobby, whom I love dearly and they are inseparable.

My soon to be ex-husband is insisting that he wants one of them, but he doesn’t even like them.  It’s just a way to get back at me.

I know I could prove that I would be the better pet parent, but my lawyer told me that in New York the courts do not make “custody” decisions about pets.

So, according to her, the issue of  who could take care of  them better is not even relevant.  How could that be?

Dear Sue,
You have to understand that “real life” and “divorce court life”  are entirely different universes.

If you were fighting about custody of the kids and the court had to make the decision because you could not agree, then at least the court would base its decision on the best interest of the children.

But, in “divorce court life” Annette and Bobby are personal property, like the silverware or the  velvet painting of Elvis.

The court has the authority to divide up the private property from the marriage, including Annette and Bobby, and award it to both of you in any way that the court finds to be equitable, i.e., fair.

But the term “equitable” does not pertain to what is fair for Annette and Bobby. I t just means that you and your husband would each be awarded approximately equal value in the way the property is split up.

If you and your husband cannot agree, then the court can order that all of the personal property simply be sold at a public or private auction and you each receive half of the proceeds.

You obviously don’t want that to happen. So your only viable choice, really, is to reach an agreement about Annette and Bobby on your own.

In other words, you and your soon to be ex-husband need to both grow up and do what is in their best interest because the court will not.

And you need to look at some issues similar to those that the court would look at in making a custody determination.

Who can provide the most stable home for them?

Who are they most bonded with?

Who has historically cared for them the most, or, in all honesty, was it both of you?

Who can best afford their veterninary care?

Is it really true that they are inseparable?

Is there any possibility of some sort of “joint custody” arrangement?

We understand that this is a difficult time for you and we don’t mean to make light of it, but the legal realities are such that it is your job, not the court’s, to protect Annette and Bobby.

And you can do it. Just as with making decisions about kids, you put their needs ahead of yours.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.

Phone (315) 207-1070.

Email:[email protected]


Because people and pets are good for each other!