family dog

Divorce: Who gets the Family Dog?

For couples getting a divorce, custody is one of the hardest issues to resolve. Pet custody is no exception. A 2014 study, conducted by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, found that more than a quarter of the respondents have seen an increase in pet custody cases during the past five years. In addition, 22% of the respondents have said that courts are more frequently allowing pet custody cases and 20% cited an increase in courts deeming pets to be an asset during a divorce.

How does the court determine who gets custody of the pet?

Typically, Virginia family law courts determine pets to be personal property, just like your jewelry or car. Thus in determining who gets the family pets, courts may look at who bought the pet, who takes care of the pet, and who purchases items for the pet. This process can cost you significant time and money and can be emotionally draining. If possible, the easiest solution may be to simply come up with a “custody agreement” involving the pet. Whatever the solution, where the pet will end up needs to be decided in order to finalize the divorce.

If you have any questions about custody of a beloved family pet, please give us a call or email us at and we will be happy to help!