In a divorce, do you get a custody plan for your pet?

| Nov 20, 2020 | Divorce |

You and your spouse have only been married for a few years. You’re already talking about divorce. On one hand, you’re glad that it’s happening now, before you have any children or too many joint assets. On the other, you’re still very concerned with protecting what matters most. 

For you, that’s your dog. You love the dog and absolutely think of it as the third member of your family. So does your spouse. Do you need to set up a custody plan the same way you would with a child?

Your pet is property

The key thing you should know here is that — as hard as this can be to hear — your pet is not part of your family. It is a property that you own. You can feel as attached to your dog as you want, but the court sees it as property. 

What this means is that some courts will refuse to make a custody schedule for a pet. They see it just like they see your favorite painting or your office chair. They’ll divide the property up in accordance with state law and tell you who gets the dog. 

What this means is that you may get other property that is considered equal in value. For instance, the judge may give the dog to your spouse, who paid for it, and give you the television. If they both cost $800, that feels “fair” to the court. Needless to say, you probably don’t agree. You can just buy another TV. While you can buy another dog, it won’t be the pet that you love so much. 

What are your options?

These types of issues can be sticking points in many divorce cases, making things far more contentious than they would be otherwise. It is critical to know what options you have and what steps to take.