Our office recently helped a client get their cat back, after we secured the court order the other side dropped the cat off at our office, our happy client took him home that day.
Pet custody issues are becoming increasingly common, both in marriages, and, sometimes among unrelated people. As the owner of two dogs who come to work with me, and a stray cat that we adopted who lives at my office, I certainly understand how important pets are.
Despite pets being like children for many of us, the law does not treat them in the same way, they are considered property. This means that in the case of a disagreement about where a pet should live, the judge will not look at the best interests of the pet, which person would do a better job caring for them, rather, the law requires that they look at the pet as property, whoever can show ownership is entitled to receive the animal, regardless of whether they will do a good job caring for them. In the case of a divorce both spouses are considered to have equal rights, for the law it is a coin toss who gets custody, though off the record judges take into consideration who is better able to care for the pet, even though the law does not look at that. For a non-marriage situation whoever paid for or otherwise owns the pet is almost certain to receive it.
Bottom line, pet custody cases are tough, if you can work something out without a fight that is best, but, if you have to go to court be prepared to prove ownership one way or the other, with the help of your lawyer.