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Pet custody cases increasing

According to reports, it seems that the national number of pet custody cases has increased in recent years. Some have suggested that this may be due to a change in the legal mentality concerning pets, which used to be divided like property during a divorce. Others believe that the number of domestic partnerships, civil unions and same-sex marriages -- and their breakups -- may be contributing to this rise in pet custody cases.

In a custody agreement between an advocate for pet custody legislation and his partner, the couple managed to work out an intricate shared custody plan for their dog. The breakup occurred in 2006, but the two came to an agreement and managed to share the dog despite living far apart.

Now, the two live in the same city and have a more detailed plan. In their plan, the two have created and agreed upon guidelines for holiday schedules, vacation time, doggie day care, food, grooming, veterinary care, travel arrangements and end-of-life decisions.

The pet custody legislation advocate is also an attorney who has represented many people in the past who have a lot of emotional attachment to their pets. This attorney said that the number of pet custody cases at his office has grown by about 15 percent over the last five years. Other attorneys have shared similar increases.

According to a 2006 survey that was conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a noticeable increase in pet custody cases had been seen by 25 percent of participants since 2001.

In Ohio, as in every state, pets are still considered property. This may change in the future, as pets are receiving legal protection during domestic violence cases in some states. If judges are truly beginning to realize that some people have legitimate emotional attachments to their pets, the law may change sooner than expected.

Source:, "According to divorce lawyers, pet custody cases are on the rise," Sue Manning, March 27, 2012

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