Pet Arrangements Increasing In Divorce

WGCL Atlanta Channel 46

ATLANTA – You may call Fluffy or Fido your pet, but that cat or dog probably feels more like a member of the family.

So what happens when the parents, also known as the owners, divorce?

Jeff Silkwood of Atlanta said his animals are in his divorce documents. He got custody of Daisy, his dog, and a cat named Cinnamon. Another dog named Macy went with his former wife.
“We do love our pets,” Silkwood said. “I just thought it was important, and my wife did too, that we address that up front.”

Atlanta divorce lawyer Randall Kessler said that when marriages end in divorce, pets are often an issue.

“I have to deliver the bad news that there’s no law on pets and custody in Georgia,” Kessler said.

Kessler said that during a divorce things can get ugly, including arguments about who gets the animals.

“We’ve had people who have let animals go when they were visiting … you know, walk-throughs,” Kessler said. “They walk through the house and identify furniture they want in the divorce and in that time they actually let an animal go because they were so mad at the other side.”

Most times, couples negotiate and work out something less drastic for the pets, Kessler said.

“We didn’t know if it was fair to the pets they were being transferred back and forth between the homes where the kids happened to be,” Silkwood said. “So we came up with an agreement that I get one dog and the cat and she has one dog to keep for herself at her house.”

Kessler said this is a growing issue and that he wouldn’t be surprised to see a bill in the legislature soon. The bill would have to focus on what happens to pets in a divorce, turning it into a custody matter and not a property issue.