When it comes to child custody, there is years of case law and relevant application to help consider how a court might decide. There are clear guidelines about how things should happen, and established systems for helping divorcing couples navigate the process during and after the divorce. What about pets, though? There is a lot of gray area when it comes to pets and how their care is determined during a divorce.

Some couples are able to figure out a working arrangement on their own, but others take the battle to court. According to a 2014 study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there has bene a 27 percent increase in recent years for couples fighting over custody of one or more pets. If you and your former spouse are likely to have a battle over the animals, then there are options for planning. Some couples decide to pass the animals back and forth between each partner, giving a week or longer at each location. Others determine that it’s best for one to have primary “custody.” Usually the partner who is deemed closer to the pet and more in charge of care will receive this responsibility, but there is wide room for interpretation should the issues escalate into court.

If you are in the process of getting divorced, then there are many issues that must be addressed as you untangle two lives from one another. Consulting with a family law attorney can help you identify some of the most pertinent issues and create a plan for addressing them effectively. While it is never easy to discuss the future of a pet when your marriage is ending, it is an important issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later to minimize any potential conflicts or confusion. Pets are part of your family, too.

Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY lawyer with over 32 years of experience. He handles custody and family court matters and offers free in-person initial consultations. Call 718-514-6619 to schedule your free consultation. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com for more information about child custody and Mr. Lutzky.