How to Decide Pet Custody in a Divorce?

There is a lot of advice available on child custody, but rarely do any resources focus on pet custody after divorce. However, most people cherish their pets as their children, and pet custody is an important issue that needs to be resolved when considering a divorce. You should seek the help of Madison divorce lawyers if you have any questions about pet custody in a divorce. 

Pets are considered property 

Even though most people consider their pets as their family, in the legal world, pets are considered “personal property.” This means that when determining pet custody, the case does not follow the rules of child custody but rather that of property division in divorce. However, the laws are changing in many states of the USA, and a lot of states have started to consider the “best interest of the pet” and are even allowing joint custody of the pet. 

How are the rules of property division applied to pets? 

To divide marital property after a divorce, most of the states in the USA use the rule of “equitable distribution.” This means that based on the facts and circumstances of the case, the judge will distribute the property based on what they think is fair. Some states also follow the “community property” rule, where the property is divided in half so both spouses get assets of equal value. 

However, in all states of the USA, the separate property of each spouse is not divided. This means that if one spouse had the pet before the marriage, or if they brought the pet into the household, then they will be awarded custody of the pet. 

How is pet custody decided? 

Some factors that are considered when determining custody of the pets are: 

  • Who bought the pet? 
  • Whose name is on the ownership documents? 
  • Which spouse had the primary responsibility of looking after the pet and taking care of it? 
  • Who paid for most of the costs involved in taking care of the pet? 
  • Which spouse’s work schedule allows them to have enough time to care for the pet properly? 
  • Does either of the spouse have a history of animal abuse? 

Are you and your partner divorcing with pets? 

If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, you may have a lot of questions about who gets custody of the family pet after your divorce. Reach out to an experienced divorce attorney and get professional help in figuring out the laws surrounding your case. 

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