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Can your spouse take your pet in divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | Divorce |

You may not have children, but you and your spouse do you have a much-loved pet, and you think of this pet as a fundamental part of your family. Now your spouse is asking for a divorce, and you’re worried that they are going to get to take the pet with them. You don’t want to lose this relationship, so how is this going to be addressed?

The first thing to do is remember that the law defines a pet as a piece of property, rather than a part of your family. Some people get to court and they will ask for a custody arrangement, such as each person getting to have the pet every other week. Courts can do this for children, but they are not going to do it for pets. They may allow you and your spouse to create such a plan if you’d like, but they’re not going to do it for you if you can’t come to an agreement.

When did you buy the pet?

In this case, one of the biggest questions is going to simply be when the pet was purchased and who made that purchase. If both of you jointly purchased the pet after getting married, then it becomes community property. You have to divide all of the property that you own, and the pet is just going to be one part of this. Odds are this means that one person will get the pet and the other person will get something else with the same value, despite the fact that this may feel unfair.

However, if you didn’t buy the pet together, then the person who purchased it prior to the marriage may be able to claim that they should stay as the sole owner. In a case like that, the court is not going to take your pet and give it to your ex-spouse.

When divorce gets complicated, it pays to know about all of your legal options.