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How does Arizona divorce court view pet custody?

Everyone has heard the stories about a divorcing couple who can’t decide who gets the car, a piece of furniture or a favorite painting. In the divorce process, it’s common to divide assets. Arizona follows the concept of community property, which means anything you’ve acquired during marriage is owned equally by both partners. In divorce, those assets are divided to give equal value to each side.

According to Arizona state law, your family pets are property. That means you both own the dog or cat. Of course, you can’t split the value of a living animal, which often leads to heated debate. Pets, especially in the current era, are members of the family. A judge may be able to award the pet to a single owner in your divorce, leaving you without an important member of your current household

Is joint custody in Arizona’s future?

Earlier this year Alaska became the first state to legally address the issue. While their new law still considers pets as property, the judge must now consider the well-being of the animal in the decision. Owners can get joint custody and, to further protect both pets and owners, the pets can be included in restraining or protective orders. Pennsylvania recently introduced another bill.

Negotiation provides more flexibility than court

Whether divorce is uncontested or confrontational, navigating the details of child custody, property ownership and dividing complex investments requires both negotiation skills and a thorough knowledge of how value is measured. While many enter divorce thinking about today—trying to dissolve a marriage as quickly as possible—it’s important to be thorough, dealing with your present issues in a way that you won’t regret later in life.

At present, Arizona has divorce laws specific to pet care. When facing divorce, an attorney can guide you through negotiation to find the best way to divide property and to care for your pets. While the state has no specific provisions, this simply means that a judge will view your pet as property with a monetary value, instead of as a personal relationship. You can include pets and their care in a negotiated settlement or mediation. There are different options for each couple, but we understand that your property has personal value to you that cannot be replaced with a monetary sum.

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Reppucci & Roeder Attorneys at Law | 5727 N. 7th Street, Ste. 205, Phoenix, Arizona 85014 Phone: (480) 900-5538 Map & Directions
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