Divorce: Who gets custody of the family pet? - Fox 2 News Headlines

Divorce: Who gets custody of the family pet?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A dog is a man’s best friend, but one family pet is at the center of a divorce.

Susan Barthel said she loves her dog Pepper, but at her divorce trial next month, she hopes she'll be awarded possession of the Lab-German Shepherd mix.

“I love our dog, we love our dog, and we just can't understand why this is being dragged through the court and is being an issue,” said Susan.

But husband Paul Barthel added, “This was my buddy. He slept with me, he walked with me.”

Paul said that giving possession to his estranged wife means he would never see the dog again, and that that’s grossly unfair.

“I am not demanding custody. I'm not demanding visitation. I'm just demanding recognition with the fact that this is my dog too. Let’s get the courts involved, let’s make a decision like adults. At one time this was our dog,” Paul said.

Susan’s attorney, Heather Nosko, said that under Illinois domestic relations law, pets are recognized as personal property and should not be used as a means to harass the other party; and Susan said that's what's happening here.

“I have done everything to make this amicable, but he just keeps harassing us to prolong the pain and suffering of the divorce,” Susan added.

Paul asked professional pet mediator Aleksandra Nejman to help settle the case, but a judge would not let her intervene.

“I mean, we're adults. I don't understand why you can't figure out how to share custody of a dog,” said Nejman.

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