Melanie Griffith wants the dogs - will this upset asset division?

Melanie Griffith wants the dogs - will this upset asset division?

By now, many North Carolina readers are aware that Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are ending their marriage after being together for the better part of two decades. The couple claims their divorce will be friendly and loving. However, a battle could be brewing now that Griffith has announced that she wants the family pets. This would not be the first time that a couple’s negotiations over asset division could be derailed over the family pets.

In recent years, pets have risen to the status of family members for millions of people. However, as far as the law is concerned, pets are property. Even so, some people spend thousands of dollars fighting to keep their pets in a divorce. A sympathetic judge may allow the parties to present evidence in court regarding which party cares more for the pet. However, judges have no obligation to entertain a custody type battle in this situation.

In most courtrooms, pets are treated as any other asset such as furniture or the marital home. Griffith would need to somehow “pay” Banderas for the right to keep the couple’s three dogs. She could exchange them for another asset or actually pay or give up money for the dogs.

At some point, family law may have to be adjusted to account for the fact that many animals are like children to their owners and may need to be dealt with in a similar manner in a divorce. Until then, in order to avoid a beloved pet being treated like a sofa during asset division, a North Carolina couple could come to an agreement outside the courtroom. Such an agreement could include visitation rights and a division of the costs associated with the animal like food, veterinarian bills and other necessary upkeep.

Source:, “Divorce Is Going to the Dogs, Literally“, Keli Goff, June 20, 2014


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