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What will happen to our pets during divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2024 | Family Law

Pets can serve as close family members, and the very thought of losing these furry and feathered friends in the event of divorce can be heartbreaking. The law typically treats pets as property rather than considering their emotional value or attachment to their owners.

When dealing with divorce cases, the question of who retains custody of a family pet often becomes a point of contention. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the decision typically rests on factors such as who purchased or adopted the pet, who primarily cares for it and what living situation would be best for the animal’s well-being.

Special considerations affecting pet custody in divorce

Spouses can always negotiate their own pet custody arrangements. But, if they are unable to come to an agreement, a judge will be called on to settle their differences. In some cases, courts may consider special factors when determining pet custody in a divorce. These could include:

  • Child custody arrangements: Where the family unit includes children, judges may prioritize keeping the pet with the parent who has primary parenting time of the children, as this maintains stability and continuity for the entire family unit.
  • Medical needs and assistance animals: If one spouse has a medical condition or disability for which the pet provides emotional support or assistance, courts may take this into account when determining custody. In some cases, pets may be recognized as assistance animals or emotional support animals, providing crucial support for conditions such as anxiety, depression or physical disabilities. The court may consider the impact on the spouse’s health and well-being if they were to be separated from the pet, potentially influencing the custody decision.

If you’re going through a divorce and are wondering what will happen to your pet, seeking legal guidance can help ensure that the pet’s well-being is given proper consideration during your divorce proceedings.