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Boston Law Firm Secures Landmark Legal Victory in Pet Custody Case

Breaking up is hard to do—particularly when a beloved pet is caught in the schism. For pet owners who share an animal with a spouse or other romantic partner, roommate, friend, or family member, a recent case decided by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals has created promising precedent in the pet custody arena, recognizing pets as unique property with a special purpose.

In Lyman v. Lanser, plaintiff Brett Lyman sought to enforce an agreement with his former romantic partner, Sasha Lanser, to equally share custody of their jointly owned Pomeranian dog, Teddy Bear. When they had acquired Teddy Bear during the course of their relationship, they had agreed that if they ever split up, they would share possession of him. However, a few months after they parted ways, Ms. Lanser allegedly ceased communications with Mr. Lyman and refused to allow him access to Teddy Bear.

After not seeing Teddy Bear for two years, Mr. Lyman enlisted the help of Boston Dog Lawyers, a Massachusetts-based law firm that serves as a national legal resource for pets, pet owners, and pet businesses, including boarding and daycare facilities, dog trainers, groomers, and veterinarians. The firm advocates for new interpretations of old caselaw to reflect the important role that companion animals play in our lives and ensure that legal issues regarding pets will be addressed in a consistent, predictable, and modern manner.

Despite minimal legal precedents to rely on, the attorneys at Boston Dog Lawyers argued that pets transcend their traditional legal status as mere property, noting that companion animals have distinct personalities and hold profound emotional significance to their owners. Therefore, they warrant special consideration under the law—particularly when pet custody agreements, however informal, have been established.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court held that parties who jointly own personal property, including pets, may form enforceable agreements regarding their rights to the property, as Mr. Lyman and Ms. Lanser did with their agreement to share custody of Teddy Bear. The Court also noted that such agreements could still be enforceable even if they were oral or informally written, such as through text messages and social media communications. However, it’s important to note that the Court limited its decision to disputes over pets between unmarried partners; a different set of legal principles may govern similar disputes between divorcing spouses.

The victory that Boston Dog Lawyers secured in Lyman v. Lanser signals an exciting shift beyond the realm of pet custody—it indicates that the legal system and society at large are increasingly acknowledging the depth of the special human-pet relationship. As members of the pet care industry, the case highlights the importance of staying informed on legal developments potentially affecting pets and their owners. To learn more about Lyman v. Lanser, visit https://www.bostondoglawyers.com/post/breaking-news-boston-dog-lawyers-wins-landmark-case-recognizing-shared-custody-arrangements-for-pet?referral=business-feed.