Many people view their pets as family members, but our courts, as much as a judge may like pets, cannot treat them the same as children. Accordingly, we must speak of the “possession” of pets and not the “custody” of pets.
It is entirely possible for a pet to belong to either party or to both parties equally. The spouses can agree to share the possession and care of a pet or, if they cannot agree, they can bring the issue before the court. Having the judge decide ownership of and/or responsibility for a pet is a very expensive process and part of a costly, lengthy contested divorce.
Among the deciding factors will be considerations like whether or not a pet belonged to a party before they married or if one party had nothing or very little to do with the pet during marriage or if, after being wed, one spouse acquired the pet by purchase or gift as solely that spouse’s pet and that spouse provided most of the pets attention, care, and needs.
Nonetheless, a couple may certainly share a pet and its responsibility after they have gone their separate ways. It may be best to have your lawyer put the details in writing so there could be no arguing about time spent with the pet, where and how long, and who will be responsible for what aspects of care and ownership.
If you have things to settle I can help you. I urge you to call me, Monday through Friday, noon to 3 PM, toll-free at 1-800-486-4070, BEFORE you begin your case, for an absolutely free consultation about your particular situation. Alternatively, you can read our free information guide which answers many questions you may have before your divorce.