While many people are concerned about child custody and child support during a divorce, with more and more couples choosing to postpone having children — or forego it all together — a new trend is developing. Pet custody is currently a fairly uncharted territory within the family courts since most states treat pets the same as any other kind of property. One example of the difficulties these situations can bring is playing out right now in the high-profile divorce of Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams.
According to reports, the couple's divorce has not been finalized because they are at odds about what to do with their two dogs and six cats. The couple filed for divorce in January 2015 after five years of marriage. Moore is claiming that she makes one-fourth of Adams' income and should therefore be entitled to spousal support. In the filings, she said that her income makes it impossible to pay her half of the bills and her other expenses.
She also claims that having to take care of the pets full time has kept her from being able to bring in more money. According to reports, she missed out on a work opportunity because she had no one to stay with the pets while she went to work.
While the laws may be changed sometime in the future to deal specifically with pet custody, those facing these issues right now should talk with a family law attorney about their options. For those not yet married, one way to prevent these issues is to make provisions for who will get the pets in the event of a divorce in a prenuptial agreement.
Source: People, "Mandy Moore Asks Ex Ryan Adams for Spousal Support, to Take Care of Pets," Jeff Nelson, Dec. 09, 2015