One of the most difficult parts of a divorce is divvying up assets and custody. When both spouses have a particular infatuation with something they had collectively acquired during their marriage, debates can get heated. However, in recent years, these discussions have been increasingly surrounding possessions that make the process all the more difficult – pets.
A 2006 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) revealed that a quarter of the 1,600 member association's respondents said that there has been a significant increase in custody battles over cats and dogs since 2001. The Associated Press reported that there is another survey that is said to be taken in the near future, and AAML president Ken Altshuler said that the number of pet-related feuds in divorce proceedings has absolutely risen in the last five years.
The problem, he pointed out, is that while pets typically stay with the parent that gains primary custody of the children, sometimes a couple's pet is considered a child to them.
Altshuler said that judges have been gradually considering the emotional attachments many people have with their pets recently. Additionally, people have been more adamant about retaining their dogs and cats after a divorce.
"People are not embarrassed to fight for custody of a pet today," family lawyer Silvana Raso told the AP. "In the past they might have shied away from it because society didn't really accept a pet as anything other than an accessory to your life."
Since 2006, Santa Monica attorney David Pisarra told the media outlet that pet custody battles have gone up by as much as 15 percent. Other attorneys claimed that the increased number of same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships are one of the many reasons for the increase.
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