How can I legally get owndership of a dog that I have a shared custody pet agreement won?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How can I legally get owndership of a dog that I have a shared custody pet agreement won?

During my divorce, we signed a pet agreement stating 50/50 ownership of our Dog A and shared custody. She adopted a new Dog B after our separation but before the divorce, and her daughter adopted a new Dog C after the divorce. The 3 dogs do not get along and Dog A has sustained many wounds from the fighting, including an a claw that had to be amputated, several deep scratches on her head and body, and now she’s missing the tip of one of her ears. The 3 dogs spend a lot of time in crates while my ex-wife and stepdaughter work. I have no other dogs, bring Dog A to work with me every day, give her 2 long walks a day, and rarely leave her by herself. My ex-wife refuses to admit she is fostering a dangerous environment or that I provide a better quality of life for Dog A. I courts treat animals as property, but is there any legal recourse I can take to get full custody?

Asked on August 30, 2018 under Family Law, New Jersey


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It sounds as if you need to speak with an attorney about setting aside the agreement and looking to the agreement and the case law in your state will be the key.  It is true: dogs are considered personal property but cruelty to an animal is regulated in every state.  See if that avenue can be a help as well.  If you can document the abuse maybe you can ask the court to set aside the agreement and award you full custody. Good luck.

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