Who Gets Custody Of The Dog? Broken-Up Mainers Want Court To Decide

May 14, 2019

Maine’s highest court is considering a custody dispute over a former couple’s dog. Justices are being asked to issue an advisory opinion about pet custody when an unmarried couple ends a relationship.

In a lower court ruling, ownership of Honey the dog was granted to Kelvin Liriano after he and girlfriend Jessica Sardina broke up. The decision was based on property law.

Sardina’s attorney Eugene Sullivan argued before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday that companion animals are not the same as other material possessions.

“If we’re saying that a toaster and a dog are different, she clearly established a significant relationship with Honey and that should count for something going forward,” he said.

The attorney for Liriano told the justices that his client should have sole ownership because he adopted and paid for the dog on his own.

During oral arguments, justices questioned whether they have the authority to issue an advisory opinion about pet custody for unmarried couples.