What happens to pets in divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2023 | Family Law |

To a large degree, divorce usually consists of two different processes: child custody and asset division. The financial assets and tangible possessions that the couple owns will be divided between the two of them, and custody time with children will usually be split, as well. It is possible for sole custody to be given to either parent, but courts usually prefer joint custody.

In any case, people sometimes wonder where their pets fit into this equation. Is your pet just a piece of property to be given to one person or the other? Or is your pet more akin to a child, a part of your family who needs to have a set custody schedule?

Pets are property

It is certainly understandable that you would feel like your pet was a beloved part of your family, but it’s also important to know that the law defines it as property. This means that the court isn’t going to make a custody schedule. Instead, the pet will be subject to property division.

This means that it may be difficult to find an ideal solution. If both of you want to keep your pet, it’s just not going to be possible. Some couples will work to set up an arrangement on their own where they share the pet, even though the court isn’t going to do so. But you may also have to simply determine which one of you will keep the pet and who is going to get another asset with a similar value.

As you work your way through this complicated process, be sure you are well aware of all the legal options at your disposal. This is especially important if you and your ex cannot find a compromise.