Who Gets the Pets in a Divorce?

If you and your spouse have children together but are filing for divorce, you already know that you’ll have to negotiate custody arrangements for your kids. But what if, instead of children, you and your spouse have a sweet fur baby together? Determining who gets custody of the pets in a divorce can be a devastating, emotional, and contentious decision.

Determining Pet Custody

In most states, pets are treated as possessions under the law. That means they are subject to division during the property distribution process in your divorce. If one spouse adopted the pet before the marriage, he or she will retain custody of the pet after the divorce.

Things can get trickier if the couple adopted the pet together after getting married. In these situations, a judge will consider the unique circumstances to make a decision.

Factors that may affect who gets the pet include:

  • Where each spouse will live after the divorce. If one spouse keeps the family home with a large backyard while the other spouse moves into a smaller apartment, the spouse with the larger home may be the judge’s preference to take the pet.
  • Whether one spouse will be moving abroad. Local laws and regulations may affect whether you can bring a pet abroad. If one spouse plans to move or travel abroad for an extended period of time, the pet is probably best suited to live with the other spouse.
  • Who the pet’s primary caretaker is. If one spouse did most of the work – like walking the dog, taking the pet to the vet, buying food and supplies, or cleaning the litter box – he or she may be more likely to receive custody of the pet.
  • The pet’s best interests. Ultimately, judges will choose the pet parent and home that is best suited for the pet.

Creative Pet Custody Arrangements

Being flexible and willing to compromise may yield the best results for each party when negotiating who gets the pet after a divorce. For example, maybe you’ll agree to let your spouse take the dog as long as you get to pet sit when he or she is out of town. Alternatively, maybe you will share custody – one person gets the dog every other week.

The solution you reach should be personalized to your unique circumstances. Working with a divorce attorney who is skilled at negotiating can help you reach a favorable outcome in your pet custody dispute. Winner Law Group, LLC and the rest of our family lawyers are here to help you navigate your case successfully.

Contact us at (502) 812-1889 to request a consultation.