Greensboro, NC asked in Animal / Dog Law for North Carolina

Q: My mom is trying to sue me for custody of my dog, My name is on the adoption paper work and everything! What can I do?!

I have not neglected or harmed my dog in any way, ever! My mom wants to try to "control" me so to speak, she is willing to go to the fullest extent with this. Even if it does mean taking me to court. What legal standing does she have if she were to go through with suing me for custody?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Mr. Albert Loch Saslow
Mr. Albert Loch Saslow
Answered
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: This is semantics, but you can't sue someone for "custody" of a dog, but instead she could bring a small claims court action seeking the return of personal property (the dog). It is easy to get into small claims court, so I don't see any standing defenses being an issue here. At trial, each side would present evidence about who actually owns the dog, and the magistrate judge would ultimately make a decision.

Amanda Bowden Houser
Amanda Bowden Houser
Answered
  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: You can not sue for custody of a dog. Dogs are property, not children so we are likely talking a small claims suit for ownership not custody. Your mother would need some claim to ownership such as paying for the dog, etc. You do not say how old you are or if you reside with your mother - these facts will also be important in determining what type of standing she has. Because you haven't provided enough information to answer your question to any useful degree, your best bet might be to consult with a local general practice attorney who can review you situation in detail and lay out your options for you. Best of luck.

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