In America today, approximately 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. 62 percent of all households have pets. That means there are a lot of pets involved in the divorce process and that can be a problem if not handled well.
It seems that pet custody is becoming more and more of an issue in divorce situations. Sometimes pet custody can even lead one of the parties to use the pet as a bargaining chip in the separation process. Emotional distress can be evident if your spouse wants to gain some sort of financial advantage by using the family dog as an asset.
While no dollar value can be put on the love you have for your pet, it is important to be aware of the emotional blackmail that can occur. Pets are considered personal property in a divorce, much like your furniture is. If you don’t have a prenuptial agreement that protects the ownership of your pet, you may want to consider contacting a professional who can help you set up a postnuptial agreement.
One question to ask if you are in the middle of divorce that involves a pet is to whom exactly the pet belongs. If the pet was yours before the marriage you have a right to keep that pet. If you are the care-taker of the pet or the one who buys the food and flea medicine, that is a piece of evidence you will want to have presented in court.
If there are children in the marriage, then the pet is actually a family pet and this needs to be noted in court as well. Shared custody is always an option. The final question that needs to be asked and answered is where will the pet be happiest and best suited? If one of you travels a lot that may be a deciding factor.
If you need assistance to develop a reasonable and factual statement with these questions answered, you may want to call a professional who can assist and look out for your best interests.
Source: Forbes, “How are pets handled in divorce?” Jeff Landers, Apr. 17, 2014