I first noticed pet custody battles were on the rise some time ago, and since then more and more have continued to come through the courtroom. In fact, last month the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers surveyed its members, and they widely reported a marked increase. Dogs were the most commonly disputed with 88% of the cases, while cats picked up 5% and horses finished up with 1%. The rest was made up of an assortment of creatures, from guinea pigs to gila monsters.

The AAML’s president offered her take on pet custody as well:

“While pet custody cases are not an everyday occurrence, far too many spouses attempt to initiate these disputes as a negotiating strategy, often believing that they can use the animal as a kind of bargaining chip.  This tactic is usually not effective and can come back to ‘bite’ the antagonist throughout the divorce process.” said Maria Cognetti, president of the AAML.  “When it comes to a pet, it is often obvious which of the spouses has the strongest emotional bond.”

With pets taking up ever-greater space in our hearts and, let’s be honest, cash from our wallets, I don’t expect pet custody cases to come any less frequently. If you have a furry (or scaled, or feathered) friend and you’re heading towards divorce, remember to talk to your lawyer to see what you can do to help your case.