If you’re getting divorced and you have a pet, it may be very important to you to ensure that you still get to see the pet after your marriage ends. This is especially true for couples who do not have children. This pet often fills a similar role in their life, and they think of it as part of their family.
But do you actually get to keep your pet if you get divorced? You may have never considered this before, but it’s an important question to ask. And you may be surprised by how this plays out.
Is your pet marital property?
The first thing to remember is that you may see your pet as a part of the family, but the law sees your pet as property. You purchased your pet and so it is an asset that you own, in the same fashion that your microwave or refrigerator is something that you purchased.
This means that custody solutions are not always available, as the court cannot create a custody order for property. They’ll have to decide who gets to keep the pet and who gets to keep another asset with a similar value. This is often unacceptable to pet owners who love their pets, but it fits from a property perspective.
And that’s only true if the pet is marital property. This means that both you and your spouse have a right to it. But if one of you purchased the pet before the marriage, it may count as separate property, and that person simply gets to keep the animal after the divorce.
You can see that this may be a bit more complicated than you assumed, so be sure you understand what legal steps you can take.