The Custody of “Rover” the Dog.
Yes, even the dog pays the price in divorce.
Every experienced divorce attorney has had the conversation with a client about custody of the beloved family dog, affectionately named “Rover” in this post. In the times of high emotion and stress that often accompany a divorce, the unconditional love given by a pet may make all the difference.
Sometimes, this makes the dog a focal point in the divorce. In Indiana, pets are property, and there is no application of the child-custody law. All of the fighting ends in the same place, a court setting over the piece of property — yes, the dog — to one party. In fact, the value of a pet is the replacement value, as with any other property.
This may put the spouse who loves the dog more in a terrible position; he or she may have to “buy” the dog by trading unequally-valued property for the pet. This is a serious matter. The short-term emotional toll of losing custody (possession) of the dog may cloud your future financial well-being. Your divorce lawyer’s duty is to try to help you avoid this mistake, or at least provide a voice of reason as a counterbalance.
A legal point that should not be overlooked is that the parties may agree to terms that a trial court could not order. For this reason, it is not uncommon to have a divorce resolve this issue with an agreement containing elaborate custody and visitation provisions for the dog, including its future medical care. However, in the event that a party does not adhere to its provisions, it is doubtful that a court could effectively enforce it.