Each year, hundreds of couples in Massachusetts race down the aisle to tie the knot and link their hearts in the eternal bliss known as matrimony. Some skip the formalities altogether and simply cohabitate.

Somewhere along the way, they get a pet, or maybe two.

After a while, the luster wears off. When it does, she wants to dump the troglodyte, and he can't pack quickly enough.

When Massachusetts Couples Split Who Gets Custody Of The Pets?
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All good things come to an end. The boy gets the car, and the girl gets the apartment and furnishings.

But who gets the pets?

The Shih Tzu and British Shorthair cat can't decide for themselves which of their humans they wish to live with, so who decides?

When Massachusetts Couples Split Who Gets Custody Of The Pets?
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According to Mass.gov, "The short answer is that in the Massachusetts courts, as in the rest of the country, pets are considered property under the law, and are treated as such during a divorce or split between unmarried people."

The site says, "In divorce proceedings, they (pets) have no more legal identity than a lamp or a table."

Mass.gov says the website Law About Animals "has laws and cases related to animal law in Massachusetts, as well as a reference to an article concerning pets and divorce from Massachusetts Family Law."

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The book Every Dog's Legal Guide says, "Overburdened courts are unlikely to take on the challenge of supervising how divorcing couples deal with their pets...Don't for a minute think that the court is a good place to resolve your disagreements about who gets the dog."

The guide says the courts "almost always simply award ownership of an animal to one spouse or the other, usually with minimal discussion." If you owned the pet before the relationship formed, chances are good you will retain custody.

The book recommends mediation outside the court if at all possible.

LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

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