Getting a dog or a cat could take a bite out of your adversary’s custody case

Posted October 19th, 2016.

Categories: Child Custody, Custody Tips, Family Law.


Do you have a dog at home? A cat? And how do your kids relate to these lovable pets? Judges don’t like to take children away from their pets.

Having a pet as part of the family can help your claim for custody on many levels: First, it paints the picture of a full family, contained within a multi-purpose household. A pet can provide the foundation for teaching a child rules and responsibilities and introducing the child to the virtues and labors of caring for another. Perhaps most importantly, a child may easily and irreversibly form a bond with a pet – a bond that judges will be reluctant to break.

Of course, a judge may have good cause to transfer custody of a child, and could possibly transfer the family dog with him. More often, however, the court will be searching for a mental picture of the child’s sense of home, his sense of place, his sense of family. The household where the child keeps a pet – where the dog has lived and slept for years – is another major factor in developing this mental picture.

The ultimate factor in every custody case is what’s in the best interest of the child. Where there are important considerations such as health, safety, violence, drugs or alcohol, or absentee parents, the court is most likely to focus on these important issues. But where such issues have been addressed, or are not relevant to the case at hand, the court will take a deeper look at the “family” that surrounds the child. A family that includes a dog or cat is likely to have a “leg up” on the competition.

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