Dogs. We love them in the best, most flawed way that humans can, and they love us unconditionally. Always. Whether you rescue your Fido from a shelter, take in puppy Fido from a litter your cousin had, or purchase a top-of-the-line Golden from a pretentious private breeder and stick a bow on her under the Christmas tree for your daughter, everyone’s dog is priceless to them.
Not in the abstract way that our homes are priceless to us because we have made memories there, but inherently, inviolably priceless. If an appraiser tried to tell you that your Norwegian Elkhound was worth $700 because that is how other dogs of that breed and age have sold in your town you would politely escort him off your premises with a shotgun.
We get it.
The judges, on the other hand…
In RI Family Court, pets are still just property. The importance of your pup is somewhere well below the pension but above the toaster.
Don’t tell him I said that.
To the parties “who gets Fido” may be the penultimate question. Before who gets the house, or, you know, the kids.
The disparity between importance to the parties, importance to the fair market, and importance to the judge can chafe. A caring, patient Family Court attorney should allow the client to arrange for the pet almost the way they would a child (if they choose to do so) without ever needing the intervention of the judge (who has much better things to do).
This will take diplomacy, and an opposing counsel who is willing to entertain the idea.
Sometimes in a divorce action, resolving the care and time of Fido can help both parties rest easier, knowing that no one involved is trying to make them suffer, and that even after the divorce process is finished they can at least come home to a wagging tail. At least half the time.