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  • Writer's pictureSummers Family Law

Who Gets the Fur Baby? Navigating Pet Custody

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

As a family law attorney, one of the more unique custody issues I help clients resolve is pet custody. When a couple divorces or separates, deciding who gets to keep the family pet can become a contentious matter. Pets are viewed as members of the family by many people, so emotions understandably run high when couples must determine pet custody arrangements.


In Massachusetts, pets are typically treated by courts as personal property. This means pet custody is handled similar to how the court would divide up valuable items like furniture or artwork. However, as a pet owner myself, I take a compassionate approach with my clients when dealing with pet custody issues. Pets are living creatures that share a bond with their owners, so I aim to find solutions that are in the animal's best interest.


Some factors I consider when advising clients on pet custody include:

  • Who has been the primary caretaker of the pet? This is often given strong consideration when determining custody.

  • What living arrangement will provide the pet with stability? Separating a pet from the home it's used to could cause distress.

  • Does one party have a stronger emotional bond with the pet? The pet's well-being should come first.

  • What schedule for sharing custody could realistically work? Pets thrive on routine and consistency.

  • Who can better provide financially for the pet's care? Pets have ongoing costs for food, medical needs, etc.

I always recommend clients first try to come to a mutual agreement on sharing custody of their pets. Going to court over pet custody should be a last resort. My goal is to help couples compromise in a way that allows both people to stay involved in their pet's life. Responsible pet ownership and preventing disruption to the animal's routine are my priorities when advising clients on pet custody arrangements.


If you're facing pet custody issues during separation or divorce in Massachusetts, I can guide you through this complex process compassionately. My legal expertise combined with understanding your pet's needs will help lead to an outcome that's best for all involved. Don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your situation.


Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and readers should not act upon any information provided without seeking professional legal counsel. The author does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information provided. This blog is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.

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