Celebrity Divorces Highlight Pet Custody Issues

Women Holding Dog In Car on Pet Custody VisitGossip pages have documented celebrity divorces for as long as there have been gossip pages. We’re all familiar with stories about custody battles between famous parents and paparazzi shots of stars executing the “handoffs” that are part of any visitation schedule. Now, many stories like this don’t just relate to the children of celebrities, but also their pets. New York and a few other states have modified their law regarding the treatment of family pets when a marriage ends, and this new legal standard might affect your divorce whether you’re famous or not.

Pet custody has been a contested issue in several high-profile divorces, including the bitter breakup between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. If your marriage is ending and you’re concerned about the fate of a beloved animal companion, you might want to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about issues such as:

  • New York’s “best interests of the pet” standard — Traditionally, the law viewed pets as mere property and they were treated as another type of household item during the asset division Of course, we know that pets mean much more to most people. Accordingly, in late 2021, New York law was changed so that decisions in a divorce relating to a dog, cat or other domestic animal are made in part based on what is in the pet’s best interests.
  • Visitation — A New York City photographer spotted Amy Robach handing the leash of her dog Brody to her estranged husband, Andrew Shue. The couple’s marriage became a news story when it was discovered that Robach was having an affair with her “Good Morning America” co-host, T.J. Holmes. If both parties have strong emotional ties to a pet that they shared, the divorce order might include language that requires the animal to spend time in each ex-spouse’s home.
  • Sharing costs — Caring for a pet takes money, and if you and your spouse plan to share custody of your dog or cat after your divorce, you might want to negotiate an agreement addressing how veterinarian costs and other expenses will be paid.

Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. is the Long Island leader in divorce and can advise you on the latest legal developments relating to pet custody and other aspects of New York’s Domestic Relations Law. For a consultation, please call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.

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