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Custody arrangements may include furry friends in Michigan soon

It's often hard to know where to start when someone is separating from their spouse. Any children of a marriage are the natural first priority, as their futures are precious and they have no fault in a divorce. Property and assets are often the next issues and then there is the natural emotional effect of the end of a relationship.

Fights about the family dog are nothing new, but they are rapidly becoming an integral part of a modern divorce. Pet custody and responsibility are a growing specialty in divorce law, with the statutes in Michigan and other states evolving to accommodate more disputes about scruffy and scaly friends.

Divorce courts in the Great Lake State have already seen claims about dogs, cats, horses, birds and lizards kept as domesticated animals by married couples. Judges may soon consider the wellbeing of the animal in these cases, while also weighing emotional attachments that family members may have made with pets.

"The intensity people can invest in a pet is phenomenal, because they view it as a member of the family," said one lawyer with experience in pet custody cases.

Michigan law has yet to treat pets less like property and more like children for the purposes of divorce negotiations or divisions. But if it follows Illinois and other nearby states with adjustments to the law, resolutions may be more complicated.

All of the complexities of a divorce proceeding are easier with an attorney to represent claimants' interests. A lawyer may help forward claims on property and custody for divorcing spouses.

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