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Deciding where the pet fits into child custody arrangements

The idea of the typical American family is forever evolving. Certainly, many modern marriages in Illinois and beyond do not resemble those of two generations ago, and couples often have different priorities than even their parents did. As a result, family law continues to evolve also. One divorcing couple will have their child custody dispute ruled on by a family law judge even though the conflict doesn’t actually involve a child.

No word is given on when the child custody hearing is set to take place, but a New York family law judge has already agreed to hear the case on which party should be granted custody of the couple’s two-year-old dog. The judge based his decision to preside over the hearing on the understanding that the future of a family pet is just as important as the future of the family vacation home. In commenting on the case, the judge added that custody concerns over pets during the divorce process may soon become more common than ever.

The dispute that the judge has agreed to hear involves a same-sex married couple in the midst of a fight over who gets to keep Joey the miniature dachshund after the divorce. One spouse feels that she is entitled to keep Joey because she was his primary caregiver and provided for him financially. She was also the one that originally bought him as a gift for her soon-to-be spouse. However, Joey currently lives with the spouse, who moved out of state with him when the couple separated. According to the spouse, she and Joey are very close and she deserves to have him.

Unlike ruling on a property division dispute, the judge will consider the best interests of Joey and pose many of the same questions he would in any custody hearing.

Source: New York Post, “Landmark custody battle over dog in divorce,” Julia Marsh, Dec. 4, 2013

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