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Who gets the dog?

"The important thing for me is to get Knuckles back, and I'm gonna do whatever it takes," reports one frustrated man that has drained his entire savings account in his pursuit. Who is Knuckles? Why is this man so desperate to get Knuckles back? Where is Knuckles? This all sounds like a case of a missing child, but in fact, it is a case of bitter ex-lovers fighting over custody of their dog, a puggle named Knuckles.

While the very public nature of this doggy dilemma may be unique, the issue at hand is not. With increasing frequency, more and more couples are turning to mediation to solve their pet custody issues.

Under California law, pets are considered property. Unlike in child custody disputes where both parents can be awarded custody and visitation according to the parenting plan, pets will be awarded to one side or the other if the issue is not worked out by the former couple.

While the pair fighting over Knuckles reports that they may be interested in mediations, it would be difficult to share custody because Knuckles "mother" lives in California while his "father" lives in New York. Not the ideal set up for switching off every weekend.

Regardless, mediation may help the couple reach a mutually-agreeable decision that is in the best interest of the dog and avoid any further costly litigation.

Source: Los Angeles Daily News, "Bi-coastal dog custody battle breaks out over Knuckles," Donna Littlejohn, May 17, 2012

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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