You love your pet more than anything, and now that you’re getting a divorce, you want to make sure you’re the one who takes your pet home with you. In some relationships, that’s an easy decision. Maybe you purchased the pet and your husband never wanted it. Maybe your wife bought a pet and decided she didn’t bond with it, or you bonded with it more than she did. Maybe you have more time than your spouse to care for a pet, so he or she thinks it’s a good idea for you to keep it.
When it comes to the law, pets are the same as any other property you need to divide in a divorce. The difference is that your pet is a living creature, and that can make it harder for you to decide what should happen.
Today, couples have fewer children than in the past, and pets may even take their place completely. Custody issues revolving around pets are certainly not uncommon, even though pet custody rights aren’t generally considered by the courts. Instead, the courts want to see the animal placed with the person who can best provide for it. It wants to see the dog, cat or other pet go to a loving home.
Things the court may consider include who takes the pet to a veterinarian, who buys food and toys, who plays with the pet or spends more time with it and who owned the pet first, if applicable.
If you’re struggling with custody issues regarding your pet, you can work with your attorney to negotiate with your spouse. Our website has more information about asset division and how it could impact you.