Stevens Firm - January 2019

One ‘Ruff’ Topic

Where Do Pets Live After a Separation?

While finances are often at the forefront of couples’ minds following a recent separation or divorce, custody disputes between former spouses are no longer limited to money, possessions, or even children. They now involve disputes over ownership and sharing of pets as well.

pets in these states are no longer considered the property of the marriage; their owners can now be granted custody over them. Even though there are millions of canine fanatics here in South Carolina, the state has not yet recognized pets as anything

For die-hard animal lovers, a discussion involving pet ownership following a separation or divorce isn’t all that far-fetched. Many dog owners, for example, jokingly claim to treat their canine friends just as well (if not better

other than part of the property of the marital estate. However, this doesn’t mean that our judges don’t take into consideration the best interests of both the owners and the pets when evaluating a case. They will look at which spouse works less, which spouse has better resources, and which spouse has been the primary caretaker of the pet. If there are children involved in the case who are close to the family pet, it’s common to see South Carolina family court judges order that the pet go with the child — assuming both parents have the ability to care for the pet during their visitation time. So while divorces encapsulate a fair amount of emotional trauma for all the humans involved, you can rest assured that when it comes to the dog days of

than) human children. More seriously though, Americans’ love for their pets has grown exponentially in recent years. In fact, a recent survey from SunTrust Mortgage indicated that the housing market has taken a minor hit due to millennials’ inability to afford homes

they feel are adequate to house their pets. Newer generations’ rising focus on pets has subsequently resulted in legal disputes following separation or divorce. In the past year, Alaska and Illinois have amended their state statutes regarding pet ownership in divorce proceedings. These amendments allow a judge to consider the well-being of the pets when determining the custody-related issues of the case. In this way, the

divorce, your pets’ well-being won’t be overlooked.

What our fans are saying

“Ben Stevens is an excellent attorney. I sought Ben’s representation several years ago. My situation was quite complex. It involved issues such as clearly outlining custody/visitation arrangements, child support, and harassment.” – Anonymous “I’ve been able to spend some time with Jenny, and her passion for her work and for helping her clients is evident. She and her firm enjoy a great reputation in the family law field, helping clients with serious and difficult issues. If you have a serious family law need, I recommend contacting Jenny and her firm.” – J. Beck Mr. Jonathan Lounsberry is an attorney you can rely on when faced with a divorce because he tries to protect everyone involved, especially children. He is very thorough, available, caring, and understanding. Most of all, he works diligently to ensure his clients are represented well when they enter the courtroom. I highly recommend The Stevens Firm and Mr. Lounsberry to anyone experiencing this life transition. – A. L.


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