What Happens To Your Pets After A Divorce?

Posted on: 6 June 2016

Divorce is always a messy situation. When children, dependents, or pets are involved – things can get especially difficult. Unfortunately, pets are not handled the same way as children and other dependents. If you and your spouse have a pet together, it is normal to wonder who will get custody of the pet after the divorce is finalized.

Animals Are Considered Property

When it comes to the law, animals are considered property in the same way your house, car and belongings are. When splitting up property after a divorce, a judge is going to want to see paperwork regarding how the pet was acquired. This paperwork can include the adoption paperwork or the proof of purchase. The paperwork can be used to determine if you or your spouse was the person who originally adopted or purchased the animal.

That does not, however, mean you will lose the family pet if you were not the one who adopted/purchased it as family pet custody during divorce is different for every divorce. A judge will also consider who the primary caregiver of the pet was. Again, you will require proof of this claim. This proof could be as simple as witness statements that you are the one who took care of the animal. Proof could also include paperwork showing that you take the animal to the veterinarian or groomer.  

A Custody Agreement Could Be Arranged

More people view their pets as their family members, in some cases pets are the equivalent of having children. Your attorneys may be able to work out a joint custody agreement for the family pet.

Judges will go through similar steps to determine custody as they would with children. The only difference is that they can't speak to the pets to find out who they prefer. The costs for the family pet will be split evenly between the two owners and both will be expected to give the same level of care.

Try Working It Out Without The Judge

The key to getting the best custody arrangement is to work something out without needing the judge to make a decision for you. If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement, you can even set up a mediation with an attorney to get the agreement in writing. This way you can both sign the agreement and commit to it.

Courts and judges are starting to view pets as members of the family instead of property. For this reason, custody arrangements are possible. Until laws, however, are officially changed, your pets will continue to be viewed as property. You can find more information by consulting with a divorce attorney, like one at Bray & Johnson Law Firm.