As they headed toward divorce, Gayle and Craig Myers had only one bone of contention: Who would have the right to keep Lucky, their 16-pound gray-black Lhasa apso.
Under Maryland law, family pets — unlike, say, children — are treated as jointly owned marital property and sold if the divorcing couple cannot agree on who gets to keep them. The parties then split the proceeds of the sale.
But the standard resolution did not seem right to retired Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Graydon S. McKee III.
The judge, presiding over the limited-divorce proceeding by special assignment, decided on his own last month that Gayle and Craig, who have no children, would split custody of Lucky. The dog will alternate spending six months with each party; Gayle’s turn began on July 1.
“It was very clear that both of them love this dog equally,” McKee said. “The only fair thing to do was to give each one an equal chance to share in the love of the dog.”
Had either side objected to his unusual resolution, McKee said, he would have applied the law and might have ordered the dog put in the care of a trustee, sold and the proceeds divided.
If you’re in the San Fracisco Bay Area, and you want to avoid a problem like this, the pet custody mediator might be able to help.