Divorce and Pets


When it comes to pets, most of us consider them to be a part our family. We care for them, play with them, and love them almost as much as our children (Shh…don’t tell your kids). It is estimated that 62% of American households have pets. When a couple decides to get a divorce, what happens to the pets?

In the law’s eyes, pets are considered personal property and thus do not get awarded as custody. Instead, the splitting couple must fight over the pet, staking their claims. Like any other dispute, deciding who gets the pets can be tricky. There are certain things the court looks at to see where the pet will best be suited.

Who had the pet first?

Often times, the decision of who gets the pet can be quite simple. If one spouse had the pet before marriage, they are the ones who will most likely obtain ownership.

Who generally takes care of the pet?

In general, the court takes into consideration the primary person who is looking after the pet. If you are the one who buys the food, takes the animal to the vet and groomers, and takes the pet for a walk, most likely, the court will grant you rights. Make sure to keep records of the animal’s upkeep. Whether it’s a receipt from the pet store with your signature on it, a signed acknowledgement from the vet, or a testimony from your neighbors, you should have proof to show you care for the pet.

Where will the children live?

In some cases, if there are children involved, it will affect who will get ownership of the pets. Because children and pets tend to have a strong bond, the court will, in most cases, allow the spouse with primary child custody to have rights over the pet as well.

Who has the lifestyle more suited for pets?

Courts will consider who has the time and lifestyle to take care of a pet. If a one spouse is a nurse, who works at various hours, they might not be able to handle the responsibilities of a pet on their own. That is why those whose lifestyle allows for pets will most likely get ownership of them.

At Family Law Advocacy Group our attorneys understands how difficult it is to split ownership of a pet. Let our specialist in family law help you with your divorce. Call our Rancho Cucamonga divorce lawyer for a consultation today.

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