If you have a pet, it probably feels as though they are part of the family. These four-legged family members are often affectionately referred to as “fur-babies” and are as much a part of the family as any of the two-legged members. They offer an incredible amount of comfort and love, especially to those going through psychological stress, like divorce. It can be hard to imagine everyday life without them.


What will happen to your beloved pet when you and your spouse divorce? Continue reading to find out more.


What Will Happen to a Pet After a Divorce?

Though many animal lovers and pet owners consider pets to be family members, Utah law only views pets as property and will be treated as such. Despite the real emotional connection felt between owner and pet, most judges will handle pets the same way they deal with jewelry, furniture, or cars. 


Who Will Get the Pet After a Divorce?

In most cases, like other property and assets, your pet will be awarded to one spouse. There are many variables the court will consider, like who cares for the animal or if one spouse brought your pet into the marriage. The first thing a judge will decide is if the pet is separate or marital property. However, even if one spouse owned a pet before the marriage, it can go from separate property to marital property thanks to commingling. 


Property can become inherited throughout the marriage and become marital property. Because marital funds are often used to care for the pet, pay veterinarian bills, purchase food, and anything else the pet needs, a pet can become marital property. The court will look at the big picture and consider all circumstances. However, the court will likely view the pet as marital property when more marital funds are used.


When determining where the family pet should live after a divorce, the court can be persuaded by the children of the marriage. If it is in the kids’ best interest, the judge might conclude that the pet should remain with the children. Additionally, the court may consider what is in the animal’s best interest, such as which spouse has a more pet-friendly home and yard.


How Can a Family Attorney Help?

A knowledgable and practiced family law attorney can help you understand and protect your rights concerning your pet. A lawyer can also help draw a pre- or postnuptial agreement where this topic can be addressed.


Contact The Ault Firm

If you are thinking about divorcing and share a pet, you probably are concerned with where your beloved pet will end up. If you are going through a divorce, are in the Salt Lake City or the surrounding area, and need legal representation, call the experts at The Ault Firm. Our attorneys have years of experience in family law and are ready to take on your case. We are committed to protecting your rights, best interest, assets, and property. Contact The Ault Firm to schedule your case review today.