Pets are increasingly being treated as a part of the family, which can cause a dispute over custody of the pets when a couple divorces. If you and your spouse have cats, dogs, or other animals and you are ending your marriage, a decision is going to need to be made on where the animals should live.
It is best if you and your spouse can negotiate and come to a consensus on what happens to the animals when the marriage ends. This way, you will not spend court time (and money on court costs and fees) to try to work out this issue. You can also create an arrangement that makes sense and will provide the animal with the best care possible.
If you are not able to make a decision on the pets, then you will need to have the judge make a choice on this issue. Pets are generally treated as property by the courts, which means the judge is going to look at whether either party is the official owner (for example, the spouse who bought the animal before marriage would usually get the pet). However, increasingly some judges are recognizing that it may be worthwhile to consider who would be the best caretaker for the animal after a divorce when deciding who should get to keep the pet.