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Pet Custody - Who Gets the Family Dog?

PuppyThe AVMA estimates that over 80 million households in the United States own a cat or dog, and that number will only increase in the next decade. So what happens to these pets when spouses separate or get divorced? Some jurisdictions are moving in the direction of treating pets more like children, where courts determine the better custodian for the pet and grants visitation rights to the other “pet parent.” This is not the case in North Carolina. Household pets – no matter how loyal, cute, loving, or what have you – are considered property, and subject to division by the court. Parties can however, attempt to reach an agreement over pet “custody,” even taking into consideration the financial obligations for the pet’s care.