Although pets feel like family, they are considered property for the purposes of a divorce. That means like all property, if the pet was purchased (or adopted) during the course of the marriage, the pet is considered community property. If the pet was acquired prior to the marriage, then the pet is the separate property of the person who brought it into the marriage, regardless of who cared more for the pet, or paid for the pet during the marriage. Gifts and inheritance are also separate property, so if the pet was given to one party, or acquired through inheritance, then the pet will belong to the party to whom the pet was given.
There is no clear cut answer to this question. A judge must look at the best interests of a child when making a child custody determination. The existence of adultery may affect a judge’s decision regarding child custody but absent a strong case the adultery has had a negative impact on the child, it will likely have little impact. It is up to the individual judge to examine the facts and circumstances of an alleged affair to decide if it will have any impact on child custody.
Judges are more willing to consider the existence of adultery when one of the parents has engaged in the affair in front of the children. A divorce can be a difficult and confusing time for children. A parent who blatantly conducts an affair in the presence of the child is showing very poor judgment, which the judge could take into consideration when awarding custody.
A related issue to adultery is introducing your child to new romantic partners during the pendency of your divorce. While you may have begun divorce proceedings and are separated from your spouse, it can be very confusing for a child, no matter their age, to be introduced to a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Having a new romantic partner living with the child is frowned upon by almost all family law judges. Some judges are so very much against the idea of prematurely introducing new romantic partners to children that if such an event occurs during the pendency of your divorce they may make a custody determination based on the fact you were so apathetic in considering the best interest of your children.
Judges can circumvent new romantic partners being around the children by including morals clauses in temporary orders. Such a clause states that no unrelated members of the opposite sex may be in the home with the children during specific hours of the night.
If going through a divorce, it’s best to wait until the custody arrangement has been determined and the divorced finalized before introducing a new romantic partner into the children’s life; both for the good of your children and your pending divorce suit.