What Happens to Pets in a Divorce?
According to research, approximately 50 percent of the marriages in the United States end up in divorce. Further, 62 percent of the U.S. households have a minimum of one pet. This means that a lot of the partners getting divorced would definitely be pet owners. Now the question arises: who decides the fate of your furry friend in a divorce situation?
Divorce attorneys inform that when one spouse has a strong emotional connection with the pet, the other may try and exploit this attachment/relationship. Since your partner is aware of your fondness for the animal, he/she might threaten to file for ownership just to get you to give up on something that has significant financial worth.
When the matter relating to the custody of the pet is presented in front of the court, the following questions may be addressed in order to arrive at a decision:
- Who takes responsibility of the daily needs of the animal including food, walks, exercise, shelter, supervision, grooming, etc.?
- Which partner has better financial ability to support the needs of the pet?
- Who runs the pet to a vet in case of illness or injury?
Handling of pets in a divorce
While you may think of your cat or dog as a family member, the law simply treats them as personal property, just like furniture and paintings. Since in the legal world, your pet is like personal property, you may utilize a prenuptial agreement for ensuring that it stays with you, irrespective of whether you continue to remain in the marriage or get divorced in the future.
But if you do not have a prenuptial agreement, it might be beneficial to include certain pet provisions in your postnuptial agreement.
Who has a life more suited to owning a pet?
Sometimes, one partner is in a job that requires long hours of work or extensive traveling, and the other has work-from-home employment setup or a more stable schedule. In such a case, the partner with the comparatively predicable and less burdensome job situation could use this point in his/her favor. Their lifestyle is definitely more appropriate when it comes to taking care of a pet. The animal would rarely be left alone or unattended and would be living in a healthier and happier environment complete with daily interaction.
If the spouses are sharing joint custody of the children, they may even consider having the pet over with the kids for that specific period of time.
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