In Georgia, pets are considered property, rather than a member of the divorcing family. Thus, if a divorcing couple cannot decide who will keep the pets, the Judge will divide them equitably, along with the other marital property. Unlike a child custody determination, the Judge will not look at the best interests of the pet in making his/her decision.
This does not sit well for some divorcing couples, who treat their pets as their children and want the Judge to take a good look at who the better pet parent is. But the Judge simply does not have to weigh the pet's best interests and, since he/she will be dividing marital property equitably, multiple pets may end up being split between the parties. This can sometimes result in unintended consequences for the mental health of the pets involved.
An example of the mental trauma that a break up can have on pets was recently in the celebrity news. Ray J's Dog - Boogati Back with His Bottom Bitch After Battling Depression, tmz.com, October 17, 2014. In that case, "Love & Hip Hop" reality stars Ray J and Princess Love broke up (they were never married), with Ray J taking the former couple's Maltese, Boogati, and Princess Love retaining their three other dogs. The break up was quite bitter and both parties were gearing up for a custody battle over the dogs. After she moved out, Princess Love claimed the other dogs were constantly crying because they missed Boogati terribly. Ray J also said that Boogati was depressed and not eating as a result of being away from the other dogs. As such, Ray J had a change of heart and returned Boogati to Princess Love. The emotional states of all the dogs improved once they were reunited. Princess Love has even said that Ray J can see the dogs whenever he wants, so it appears the two were able to put the needs of their dogs in front of their own.
While this case dealt with a break up and not a divorce, it still shows the impact this kind of change can have on pets. If you are going through a divorce and there are pets involved, try to work out the issue with your soon to be ex, rather than leave it up to the Judge. You and your spouse know your pets better than the Judge, and will be making a decision with the best interests in mind - something the Judge will not do. You will, therefore, likely be much happier with the results.