What Happens to the Family Pet During a Divorce?

Posted on: September 6, 2019

What Happens to the Family Pet During a Divorce?

What is harder than dealing with a divorce? Dealing with separating members of the family. As a pet owner, you know that your pets are a part of that family and at Law Office of Michael L. Fell we understand that too. We know how important it is that your attorney fights for your rights as a pet owner. Keep reading to find out what happens to pets during a family divorce. If you are in need of a free consultation, reach out to us at (949) 585-9055 .

How the Court Determines Who the Pet Belongs To

During a divorce, property is considered either community property, separate property, or both. Community property describes any property that you acquired during the marriage. Separate property is the property that was acquired before the marriage or after the date of separation. If the court determines that your pet is community property, then they will consider it an asset and it will be divided as all other marital assets are.

The court would value the pet based on the amount the pet could be sold for if sold in the open market. The court places an economic value on the pet unless the pet is a service animal. In that instance, it would most likely be considered the property of the spouse requiring service.

How the Court Determines Who Keeps the Pet

Unless you and your spouse can agree on who keeps the pet during the divorce process, the court will have to decide for you. If you want to keep your pet, we strongly recommend trying to negotiate with your spouse. If that doesn’t work, then consider creating a visitation agreement in which the pet can be seen by both of you. If you cannot agree on this then the judge will decide who gets the pet and their decision will be final.

Do You Need Help Fighting for Your Pet?

It can be incredibly difficult to determine who a judge is going to award the pet to. For this reason, if your top priority is to win custody of your pet, then we may suggest working to offer your spouse something they cannot refuse in exchange for your pet. For example, if they want to keep the house, you could open a discussion to say they can have the house (and the debt that comes with it) if they let you keep your pet.

If you are not willing to give up something significant for your pet, and you are not open to shared custody, then we can build a case as strong as possible to convince the judge that the pet should be yours. How we will build that case will depend on when the dog was bought or adopted, who its primary caregiver was, and other factors. If you are ready to talk to a family law attorney who can help, contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 .