Property division dispute during divorce could involve pets


Breaking up with a spouse can be difficult when it comes to monetary issues. For example, the two individuals may disagree about property division and asset distribution. Fighting over which divorcing spouse will have custody of the kids can also spark emotional battles. However, a new type of emotional custody battle taking place throughout the United States, including Virginia, involves fights over pet custody.

Pets these days are highly valued in the home. This is why people who decide to dissolve their marriage often are distraught if they can’t agree on who will keep the family cat or dog. If the two can’t work toward a resolution on the matter, a judge will decide for them which person will get to the keep the animal. The pet is considered property, even though it may have been treated like a child in the couple’s home.

Melanie Griffith, an actress, recently got involved in a pet custody battle after filing for a divorce from Antonio Banderas. The celebrity couple had three dogs that they had adopted from a rescue group. Griffith was seeking to have custody of all three pets under the pair’s divorce settlement. There’s a possibility that judges in America in the future could treat dogs and cats more like kids when making decisions regarding pet custody, support payments and visitation.

Right now, a cat is synonymous with a car in the eyes of a judge -- both are considered property that has to be split between two people during a divorce proceeding involving property division. If the two individuals can negotiate on who will get to keep which marital items, they can avoid court intrusion and increase both of their chances of being content with their final divorce settlement. Otherwise, a court will decide for them, and the outcome may not be personally favorable for one of the parties in Virginia.

Source:, "Melanie Griffith: pet custody issues more common in divorce", Myra Fleischer, June 30, 2014

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