Creating a Fair Pet Custody Plan in New Jersey Divorces

Creating a Fair Pet Custody Plan in New Jersey Divorces

In New Jersey, as in many other states, the question of pet custody during a divorce can be as emotionally charged as decisions about child custody or property division. For many couples, pets are more than just animals; they are beloved family members. This emotional connection makes the task of deciding who gets the pet in a divorce both critical and challenging. As experienced NJ family law attorneys, Ziegler Law Group LLC understands the complexities surrounding pet custody and is committed to helping clients navigate these sensitive issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Pet custody in NJ is a complex issue requiring careful consideration.
  • Ziegler Law Group LLC provides compassionate, tailored legal assistance in pet custody cases.
  • A fair pet custody plan should prioritize the pet's welfare and the parties' lifestyles.

Understanding Pet Custody Laws in New Jersey

There are, presently, no pet custody laws in New Jersey. Unlike children, pets are considered property under New Jersey law and can technically be divided between spouses. That should be the case, but most people know that pets are not property but members of the family. Most judges in NJ understand that the emotional bonds people share with their pets is special. This has led to a more nuanced approach in recent legal cases.

Courts may consider factors such as:

  • Who primarily takes care of the pet
  • Who has the best ability to provide for the pet's needs
  • The pet's well-being and attachment to each party

Table of Key Factors in Pet Custody Decisions



Primary Caretaker

 Who has historically taken care of the pet

Financial Responsibility

 Who can afford pet care, such as vet bills and medication

Pet’s Well-Being

 Consideration of the pet’s health, age, and needs

Living Arrangements

 Suitability of the living space for the pet after the divorce

Work Schedules

 Who will be available more often to take care of the pet?

Why Should You Create a Pet Custody Agreement

As mentioned earlier, your pet (or pets) is, to you, family. If, for example, you and your spouse adopted a puppy early into your marriage and raised that puppy into adulthood together, you both share a special bond with your pet. For many, their pets are a best friend or a child, and being separated from such a being, whether they are human or an animal, makes no difference to the heart.

That is why, if you are getting divorced and have animals that you both love, a fair pet custody agreement is one way to ensure that you, your spouse, and your pet are not negatively impacted.

Crafting a Fair Pet Custody Agreement

Similar to a child custody plan, a pet custody plan or agreement is a written document that establishes various parameters. A fair pet custody plan should prioritize the pet's welfare and consider the lifestyles and schedules of both parties. The plan might include:

  • Shared custody or visitation schedules
  • Decisions about who will cover veterinary and other pet-related expenses
  • Consideration of the pet's age, health, and unique needs

Being that separation and divorce is an emotionally charged time, you may want to appoint a legal representative to your case and to help craft your far pet custody agreement. At Ziegler Law Group LLC, we believe in a compassionate, client-focused approach. We work closely with our clients to understand their unique situations and craft a pet custody plan that serves the best interests of the pet and respects the emotional bonds our clients have with their animal companions.


Q1. Is pet custody treated the same as child custody in New Jersey?

A: No, pets are legally considered property, but courts increasingly acknowledge the emotional aspect of pet ownership.

Q2: Can we create a shared custody plan for our pet?

A: Yes, shared custody or visitation plans for pets are possible and can be tailored to fit your situation.

Q3. What if we can't agree on a pet custody arrangement?

A: If an agreement can't be reached, the court may decide based on various factors, including who is the primary caretaker.

Reach Out to Ziegler Law Group LLC for Compassionate Guidance

Deciding pet custody in a divorce is a delicate process that requires understanding, patience, and legal insight. Ziegler Law Group LLC, a leading divorce lawyer in New Jersey, is dedicated to helping you navigate this challenging time with empathy and experience. Contact us at 973-533-1100 or by filling out the contact form. We are here to ensure that your furry family member's future is handled with the care and respect it deserves.

Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Consult a qualified NJ family law attorney for advice on your specific situation. Legal content may not reflect the most current legal developments; the reader should seek updated legal counsel from a licensed attorney.

For the general public: This Blog/Website is made available by the law firm publisher, Ziegler Law Group LLC for information and educational purposes only. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice to any reader. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and the Blog/Website publisher. The Blog/Website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice you obtain from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

For attorneys: This Blog/Website is informational in nature and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation/representation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. Due to the dynamic nature of legal doctrines or the current law what might be upheld or viable one day may be changed or modified the next. As such, all of the content of this entire blog must not be relied upon as a basis for arguments to a court or for specific individualized advice to clients without, again, further research or a formal consultation with our professionals.

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