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What happens to your pet during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Divorce

When couples get divorced, two of the biggest areas they have to consider are child custody and asset division. Couples need to split up their marital assets, which are typically just the items or financial assets that they gained during their marriage. They also have to figure out how to divide parenting time and decision-making power regarding their children.

Pets fall into an interesting sort of middle ground. Is your pet a piece of property that has to be divided along with everything else that you own? Or is your pet more like a family member, and do you need to have a custody schedule so that you and your ex can both see the pet after you end the marriage?

How the law views pets

Many people view their pets as family members. If you and your ex would like to set up a schedule to share ownership and ensure that both people still see the pet, you are free to do so. But the court will not do this for you and create a pet custody schedule.

The reason why is that courts view pets as legal property. In the same way that you would buy a couch or a refrigerator, you can purchase a dog or a cat. If the two of you were married when you bought the pet together, then the court would just try to divide assets by giving the pet to one person and giving the other person an asset with a similar value. 

Naturally, this sort of strict legal interpretation is not satisfactory to many people. This is why it’s so important to consider all of the options that you have during divorce and what steps you can take to seek the optimal outcome.