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Dogfight

Dogs have never had it better. Some Butler County dog owners have purchased dog collars equipped with GPS so that they can always find their four-legged friends. Glow-in-the-dark collars are also available, and there's a company that sells paw protectors for dogs who hike and climb over rocks with their owners. There are also canine cooling vests for purchase, as well as custom dog "mansions," doggy showers and even bottles of dog "beer" (non-alcoholic). The point is that as couples put off having babies (human ones), they often lavish more attention on man's and woman's best friend.

Unfortunately, that has made pet custody fights increasingly common in divorces. Dogs are the pets most often the focus of the custody disputes, but there have been disagreements over cats, iguanas, parrots and turtles as well.

In fact, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that 27 percent of family law attorneys report an increase in pet custody disputes over the past 5 years. Dogs got the lion's share of the attention, with 88 percent, while cats were a distant second with just 5 percent of custody battles.

A recent news article detailed the ordeal of a childless couple that spent years trying to decide how to share time with their beagle-mix. The man described the thought of never seeing the dog again as "the worst feeling in the world." The woman said she was "devastated" by the prospect.

They finally decided on shared custody. He gets the dog for six months and she gets the pooch for the other six. Unfortunately for the dog, the former partners live 2,500 miles apart. He lives in British Columbia and she's in Virginia.

Ohio residents who love their dogs as family members know that custody is not a trivial matter. Cherished relationships are not lightly or easily broken. For some people, losing custody of their dog in a divorce is worth drawing a line in the sand over. For others, property division is more likely to produce serious disagreements, and of course, divorces involving children often have multiple points of conflict that must be resolved with the help of an experienced family law attorney.

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