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Who Gets the Animals? Companion Animal Custody and the Law


Understand the unique legal status that pets, or companion animals, hold and how to assist your clients in reaching the best possible outcome.

67% of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet. This number is up from 56% of U.S. households in 1988. Pets are cherished members of these families, and increasingly, when families break up, they fight over the pets as much as, or more, than they fight over their human children and are increasingly turning to the courts to resolve their battles over who gets the pets. While pet owners may view their pets as having the same status as human children, the courts do not. Lawyers and legal professionals who represent pet owners often do not understand the unique legal status that pets hold, and therefore do not always get the best results for their clients. This topic will help lawyers and legal professionals who represent clients involved in pet custody disputes understand the unique legal status that pets, or companion animals, hold in the U.S. and how to assist their clients in reaching the best possible outcome given that special status. The material also explains the various causes of action for pet disputes outside of family law matters. This information is critical for attorneys who represent pet owners, breeders, and rescues so they can ensure their clients are able to protect themselves in the event of a custody dispute over their pets.



April Goodwin

April Goodwin

The Goodwin Firm

  • Owner of The Goodwin Firm, the fastest-growing law firm focused on pet’s rights
  • Representing pet owners and pet businesses for all their unique legal needs as well as employers for their labor & employment law needs
  • Featured in Safety Harbor Living Magazine, featured guest on “The Crushing Debt” and “Solopreneur to Employer” podcasts and “The Skinny” Facebook Live show, and facilitator for “Lawyering While Human: Is it even possible?” workshop
  • Member of the Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar and the Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • J.D. degree, Ohio Northern University; B.S. degree in psychology, The Ohio State University
  • Can be contacted at 727-316-5333 or [email protected]

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