Bergen County Pet Custody Lawyer

Bergen County Pet Custody Lawyers

Are you getting a divorce and worried about what that means for your family pet? You can trust the Bergen County pet custody attorneys at Arons & Solomon, P.A., to understand the importance of your pet. Most pet owners consider them part of the family! 

Reach out to our Bergen County, New Jersey law office today. We offer an initial consultation absolutely free, so there’s no risk in calling. 

How Our Bergen County Divorce Lawyers Can Help You Resolve Your Pet Custody Dispute

pets

Pet custody cases are not unusual, but they are not all that common, either. Unlike child custody, New Jersey law does not provide for pet custody hearings in divorce cases. 

Still, the creative and compassionate Bergen County divorce lawyers at Arons & Solomon can help you reach a resolution if you are in a dispute over a family pet. With over 150 years of collective experience, we know how to negotiate for our clients’ desires no matter what the issue. 

We take our Bergen County pet custody cases seriously, whether your family loves a dog, cat, bird, or any other type of domesticated pet. 

Here’s what you can expect the dedicated legal team at Arons & Solomon to do for you: 

  • Personal representation. We serve clients with a personal touch. When you call our law offices, you will speak to a family law attorney. We maintain a selective caseload to ensure that each case gets the proper time and attention our clients deserve. 
  • Sophisticated strategy. Candidly, it takes a sharp attorney to manage the complicated situation presented by disputes over a family pet. We work with our clients to help them understand the potential outcomes of their pet custody cases and manage their expectations for what we can realistically do. 
  • Competent mediation and aggressive litigation. Most pet custody cases can be settled. Our Bergen County family law attorneys have years of experience mediating, but we also have excellent litigation skills. We can be as friendly, or as aggressive, as the circumstances require. 

New Jersey divorce courts do not see pet custody cases every day. The numbers, however, are on the rise. Our compassionate Bergen County pet custody lawyers understand that for pet lovers, pet ownership is more than a casual matter. 

Once we understand the facts and circumstances of your pet custody case, we can work one-on-one with you to develop a plan to negotiate, mediate, or litigate your case. Our initial consultation is free of charge, so please reach out to our office today to get started. 

Pets and Divorce: An Overview

According to data collected by the American Veterinary Medical Association, at least 38% of U.S. households have at least one dog. 

In 2019, the American Bar Association published an article noting the trend toward laws dealing with disputes over family pets during divorce. 

You may be wondering: does New Jersey have a pet custody law? Pet custody disputes are increasingly common and the pet-loving divorce and family law attorneys at Arons & Solomon have plenty of experience helping families resolve their furry fights. 

“Pet custody” means the same thing as pet ownership. Since pet owners love their animals like family, it can be quite difficult to decide what to do with the pet after a divorce. 

Does New Jersey Have Pet Custody Laws?

sad dog

Yes and no. Let us explain: pets are considered to be assets under New Jersey state law. 

As they are classified as assets, pets are appropriately part of the equitable distribution of property proceedings. Unlike child custody proceedings, which are based on the best interests of the child, the trial court dividing assets will treat the animal as part of the property to be split.  

Unlike some other states, including California and Alaska, New Jersey divorce law does not recognize any special classification for family pets. 

Here’s what pet custody looks like in those states, and could look like in the future here in New Jersey:

California’s Pet Custody Law

California courts classify pets as property, but nevertheless, recognize the “unique nature” of pets and their sentimental value. In California property division hearings, attorneys are permitted to ask questions such as “who walked the dog?” or “who took the bird to the veterinarian?” and the court can consider these facts in deciding who gets custody of the pet.

Alaska’s Pet Custody Law

Alaska was the first state to formally enact a law specific to pet custody. 

Passed in 2017, Alaska’s law directs courts to treat vertebrate pets (sorry, snake owners!) differently than other property by:

  • Considering the animal’s well-being
  • Allowing the court to award joint custody

When we think of “joint custody” in the context of pet ownership, it’s more like “co-ownership,” such as might be common with timeshare vacation homes. But what about us here in New Jersey?

How is Pet Custody Handled in New Jersey?

pet custody

The good news is that many, if not most, can be settled without going to court. With our years of experience negotiating informally or mediating formally on behalf of our clients, we can often get a “pet parenting plan” worked out between pet-lovers. 

Judges in New Jersey do have discretion in the division of assets. Technically, this means that the judge can consider how to best assign or award pet “custody” (or the assignment of ownership to one person). In some cases, the pet was acquired by one spouse or the other before the marriage. In these cases, it is most likely that the pet-parent who brought the pet into the marriage will be awarded custody. 

But what about pets bought or adopted during the marriage? That can depend on whether or not the couple has a pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreement that addresses the issue. 

Perhaps you haven’t heard, but pet custody has become an issue addressed by these kinds of matrimonial agreements. They even have a name: pup-nups

At Arons & Solomon, we will work with you to develop this kind of an agreement, if you need one! Then, you can avoid the uncertainty of who will get the pet in the event of a divorce

In the absence of a pup-nup, and if you cannot come to an agreement, we will work hard to give you the best chance to be awarded your beloved pet. We can make an argument that the animal’s well-being is best served by splitting time between the humans who love them. In cases involving children, it may impact the best interests of the children as well!

Helping Families Negotiate Favorable Pet Custody Agreements Across Bergen County, NJ

At Arons & Solomon, we understand how tough it can be to get a divorce. We appreciate how much harder it becomes when issues like pet custody arise. We’re here to help you fight to get the very best outcome for your four-legged friend or other family pet. 

Since 1994, our family law and divorce lawyers have represented clients across Northern New Jersey.

We handle pet custody cases in:

  • Teaneck
  • Englewood
  • Ridgewood
  • Tenafly
  • Franklin Lakes
  • Upper Saddle River
  • Allendale
  • Old Tappan
  • Hohokus
  • Saddle River

Give us a call to find out how we can help you find a solution to your pet custody dispute. We’ll discuss your legal options, outline the dispute resolution tactics that might be helpful, and provide an overview of what a pet custody hearing before a judge might entail. Our team is always standing by to take your call, so reach out to us for assistance today.

Contact a Bergen County Pet Custody Lawyer Today

At Arons & Solomon, our Bergen County pet custody attorneys may not have seen it all, but we have seen a whole lot. We have experience handling all manner of divorce cases, including those involving a dispute over a beloved family pet. 

We can help you develop the best strategy to achieve your goal, based on the facts of your case. Reach out to us today for a free case consultation.