Pets and Custody

Pets and Custody: What do we do Meow?

It’s estimated that 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% have a cat. As a caring pet owner, many people in a divorce situation are confronted with the uncomfortable situation of deciding what to do with a family pet when the marital relationship ends.

Under Pennsylvania law, pets are typically considered property and cannot be the subject of a formal custody case. However, much like many issues in divorce and custody matters, agreements can be made outside of the court system. These agreement may mirror a typical child custody arrangement and provide for “visitation” for the pet or may determine which party receives the pet when the parties separate residences.

This area of the law is constantly changing, however, so if you find that you and your significant other need assistance with this aspect of your divorce, please contact us at LaMonaca Law, (610) 892-3877.


About the author

About Melissa Towsey

Melissa graduated from the University of Virginia in 2002 with a double major in Sociology and Foreign Affairs. After working for several years as a paralegal in Washington, D.C., she attended The University of Villanova School of Law and graduated in 2010. During law school, Melissa was involved in several public interest organizations and published an article in Villanova’s Environmental Law Journal, “Something Stinks: The Need for Environmental Regulation of Puppy Mills” 21 Vill. Envtl. L.J. 159 (2010) After law school, Melissa clerked for the Honorable Thomas G. Parisi, Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division in the Court of Common Pleas, Berks County. Melissa is the supervising attorney of the firm’s Appellate Unit. The Appellate Unit handles all aspects of the appellate process for family law cases as well as advanced research within the firm. Melissa and her husband, Paul, reside in Montgomery County with their two cats Wembley and Gobo. In her spare time, she enjoys audiobooks, barbeques, and watching action movies.