There are so many sensitive subjects when it comes to separating from your partner.  Issues like finances, alimony, child custody and parent time are largely discussed and considered beforehand.  One issue however that can be just as emotionally involved is in regards to your pets.  Many people have such a strong bond with their animals they consider them to be members of their family.  Our attorneys have often seen problems in relationships where the spouses do not have children.  These situations are especially prone to having both partners sharing equal love with the dog, cat or any other type of pet.

So who has a right to own the dog?

Although some people may feel their love their dog like a child, courts, unfortunately, do not treat animals the same as humans.  In most cases, animals fall under the same category as property and will be considered a marital asset.  This means the handling ownership after a divorce will feel a lot more like deciding who gets to keep a car.  In the best case scenarios, couples are able to respectfully decide where the animal will live.  Other times coming to that conclusion may be difficult leaving one party to be inevitably disappointed and heartbroken.

What are some things you can do to help keep the pet?

Judges and court system are unlikely to impose any sort of custody agreement as they would with children.  This means if it comes down to it you may need to prove you are best suited to take the pets.  Here are a couple items that may be considered to help build your case.

  1. Was the animal purchased before the marriage? Even if it happened a short time before the wedding day, the original purchases have a larger claim to the animal.
  2. Who really put forth the larger effort to care for the pets while married? If you are the more responsible party there is a better chance the animals will go to you.  This includes being the one who feeds the cat or dog, took them on walks and paid for any medical bills.
  3. Consider the best interest of the pet. More often than not one living situation will be better suited for animals than others.  If you are able to show why your circumstance is ideal for the animals care it should be in your favor.

Animal custody is just an example of the important factors that must be addressed during divorce proceedings.  Our attorneys and legal staff is here to help fight for your rights.  Contact our Draper divorce attorneys to learn more about what we can do for you.