O’Brian & Associates is committed to the safety and well-being of our clients and potential new clients. As our community adjusts to restrictions to the COVID-19 our office will remain open so long as health and safety regulations permit, but we are happy to meet with clients and potential clients through phone meetings, Skype calls or Facetime.

Pet Custody

Pets and Divorce

Family petsWhen couples decide to divorce, ownership of pets may become an issue. Some individuals may wish for proceedings to be handled more similarly to child custody rather than property division, but it is more likely to be handled as the latter as pets are not children. Washington state pet owners may beg to differ, but laws concerning the issue must be upheld.

In many cases where animals are part of the division process, court systems must determine who should be entitled to ownership of the pet and if the other party should have the ability to see that pet. The situation can become complicated if one party wishes to see the pet, but the owner of the animal does not cooperate. Some individuals may desire to return to court in order to ensure the owner of the pet upholds visitation privileges, but some courts could rule that such privileges are not necessary.

While pets are often seen as assets or property by the court system, it could be beneficial to take the well-being of the animal into account. Like children, pets need care and attention, and in that respect should be treated differently than an inanimate piece of property. Pet owners could find themselves returning to court to argue pet ownership, if they feel strongly about the situation.

In cases where property division includes pets, the circumstances can become complicated. As a result, understanding Washington state division laws and how pets may be handled could be a beneficial step to take. The more information a party has on the topic, the better prepared they may be for how the court system could see their beloved pet.


If you're concerned about pet custody during your divorce, contact the team at O’Brian & Associates now!


Susan O'BrianBlog Author: Attorney Susan O'Brian

Susan O'Brian has been practicing family law since 1986 and is the founder of O’Brian & Associates.

Visit her bio to learn more about her experience helping families with their legal matters.

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