As reported by multiple news outlets, the four-year relationship between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (co-stars of the popular “Twilight” film series) is coming to an end. The most recent ripple effect of this break-up is the ensuing pet custody battle over their rescued dog, Bear. The New York Daily News reports that Pattinson wants Bear all to himself, while Stewart is seeking “joint custody” of their pet.
Pets are an integral part of many family units, and pet custody cases are on the rise across the nation. However, as I previously explained on this blog, Virginia law still treats pets as “mere property” to be divided in divorce cases. A Virginia court could no more order joint custody of a dog or a cat than it could order joint custody of a plasma television, a kitchen table, or an eggplant suncatcher hanging in the window.
Pet owners like Stewart and Pattinson are not entirely out of luck when divorcing in Virginia, however. They could enter into a Pet Custody Agreement outlining their respective custody rights and responsibilities, or include such provisions in a Separation Agreement as part of their divorce. Thus, what they cannot ask the court to do directly they can achieve by contract, giving each other enforceable rights on how to share Bear.
The family law attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C., have extensive experience in negotiating and drafting separation agreements, including provisions specifically dealing with pet custody. We represent clients in Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas, Woodbridge, Prince William County, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and throughout Northern Virginia. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.