Despite feverish disputes over pet custody during divorce, courts consider pets property of a marriage rather than beings deserving of shared parenting time. According to a 2008 survey by the American Pet Products Association, 63 percent, or 71.1 million of U.S. households include pets – mostly dogs. Statistics also show that couples are having fewer children than in previous generations and spending more money on their pets ($58.51 billion a year according to a 2014 APPA survey).
But before you ask your attorney to run to court over your pet, know this: Maryland judges don’t like to rule on pets during divorce cases. All too often during custody discussions my clients will ask about parenting time with their dog in the same way other clients discuss parenting time with children. It’s hard enough to determine the best interests of children and maintain equitable distribution of time, resources and attention for human families – no matter how serious pet custody may be to you. If divorce is not hard enough already, pet-loving soon-to-be-ex spouses must find a way to work out the “who-gets-Fido” question without killing each other because the courts aren’t going to help.