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10 Years After Divorce Ex Spouse Gets Pet

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 28-Feb-2013

After being separated for ten years, Ginger, a basset hound, found herself being rescued by her owner. Jamie Carpentier lost Ginger during a divorce with his wife, and was recently reunited with his loyal companion. Carpentier happened to be surfing the internet for a new dog when he stumbled upon a description that matched Ginger's.

Carpentier emailed some pictures of when his dog was younger to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua and also received some updated photos. When Carpentier went to visit the shelter Ginger immediately recognized him. Ginger recognized his voice right-away and welcomed her previous owner with some licks.

Although his ex-wife was to be Ginger's caregiver she didn't keep the dog long after the divorce. Ginger had found herself in the shelter in Greater Nashua but Carpentier was not notified. An older couple had given her a new home, but then was no longer able to take care of her.

Celebrities have also found themselves figuring out what to do with the family pet. PETA reportedly stepped in when it came to Britney Spears' dogs. A letter was sent to her ex asking him to pursue custody of the dogs, especially since he had custody of the children. Spears has the distinction of being voted the worst dog owner by The Hollywood Dog and The New York Dog.

Pet custody battles have recently spiked between couples. Individuals who are now getting ready to marry are having their soon to be x-spouses sign a pre-nuptial agreement for their pets, also known as the "pre-pup agreement", before saying "I do". Also, couples who have adopted an animal together are signing written agreement in case their human marriages end in divorce.

Some of the questions that pet agreements answer include:

  1. Will one owner have sole custody, or will custody be shared?
  2. How will health costs be covered? Items in this category range from regular check-ups to paying for the cost to euthanize an pet;
  3. Socialization activities for the pet; and
  4. How will the death of a pet be handled?

For owners who don't have a signed agreement and find themselves in front of a judge, a variety of factors may be taken into account for the awarding of a pet:

  1. Proof of adoption;
  2. Bond with children;
  3. Who can pay for pet related expenses; and
  4. Who has provided the best support and supervision of the animal?

Pet rulings are currently different than rulings regarding child custody. Animals are treated as property, which means a ruling is not necessarily in the "best interest of the pet" as they are with children. This can be especially difficult if a spouse is using a pet to get back at his or her soon to be ex spouse.