No divorce is a simple divorce. However, some issues in the divorce process are more complicated than others. Common areas of complexity include child custody and asset division. However, one issue is becoming increasingly common – pet custody. Find out how divorce with pets is changing and what that means for you and your pet.
Handling a Divorce with Pets
Divorce is not a black and white issue. When you go through a divorce, there are many small details that you and your partner need to discuss. One of those issues is pet custody. If you and your partner have a pet, then you need to determine who is the rightful owner of that pet.
Although divorce with pets is quite common, many individuals don’t understand the laws regarding pet custody. Approximately 62% of US homes have at least one pet. Out of all those homes, about half of the pet owners go through a divorce. That’s quite a few divorces involving pets.
Before you go through a divorce with pets, you should understand the way it affects your divorce. Like other issues, you can handle pet custody outside of a courtroom. However, you and your partner need to agree to the terms. In many divorces, the issue of pet custody is one of controversy. Both individuals might have a strong bond with the pet. In some cases, one partner uses the pet as leverage against the other. Because he knows how much you value your pet, your partner might threaten to seek custody of your pet if you don’t give him what he wants.
Going to Court
When you and your partner can’t agree on pet custody, then you need to settle in court. However, until recently, the court viewed pets as property. No matter how strong of a bond you had with your pet, the court would treat him as an asset. Because of this, some pets ended up in a home that wasn’t suitable. It didn’t matter if one individual would provide better care for the pet; the best interest of the pet didn’t matter.
Today, the law is changing. In some states, a pet is no longer treated as property. Instead, pet custody is more like child custody. The court tries to determine who would provide the best level of care for the pet. Then, they award the better owner custody. It’s better for the welfare of pets.
Determining Who Gets the Pet
It’s a simple question. However, the answer isn’t quite so simple. According to the law, your pet is not a family member. Instead, it’s a piece of property. No matter how strongly you feel about your pet, the law doesn’t change. In your divorce, the court considers your pet as personal property. Fido is no different than your leather sofa.
As personal property, you can include a pet in your prenup. But if you don’t have your pet in a prenup, then you could have a problem. The court needs to consider who is the rightful owner of your pet. While there are many different factors that play into the court’s decision, there are a few common details that matter.
Although Alaska was the first state to change the laws relating to divorce with pets, other states are following suit. Illinois recently passed a law that treats pets more like family members than property.
In court, you need to prove that you are the rightful owner of your pet. This could mean proving actual ownership. Or, it could mean proving that you are the most suitable owner. Here are a few details that the court considers:
In some situations, one partner is the original owner of the pet. If you took in your pet before your marriage, then you might be the rightful owner. As such, the court would award you pet custody.
2. Primary Care
Generally, one partner provides more care to a pet than another. For example, you might take your dog to all the veterinary appointments. This would make you more likely to be the primary caregiver for the pet. The same is true of being the person to provide daily care for the pet.
In a divorce that involves children, the pet could go to the home with the children. If the children are attached to the pet, then it may be in their best interest to live with the pet.
Your work schedule could affect your pet ownership. If you often travel for work, then you might not be the best pet owner. Similarly, working a job with long hours could hurt your chances. The court will do what’s best for the pet.
If you are going through a divorce with pets, then you need help. A divorce lawyer can help you get custody of your pet and everything else that you want out of your divorce. Don’t hesitate to get the help you need.