Dealing With the Family Pets in Divorce
For many people, pets are as much a part of the family as a child. When a marriage breaks up, it can be tough to decide which spouse the pet is going to live with. There are many emotional and practical factors that go into making such a decision, and courts are not always the best places to decide pet issues.
How the Law Views Pets
Even though pets are an important part of our lives, the law views pets as a type of personal property. Your beloved family dog or cat is the same as the family television or couch as far as the law is concerned. Technically, the pet can be assigned a dollar value and put into one spouse’s column on the property division worksheet. There are no explicit pet custody provisions in the law.
Steps to Make Sure Pets are Provided For in a Divorce
While the law may only view pets as pieces of property, you know your pet is more than just a number on some spreadsheet. If you want to make sure your pet is taken care of in the divorce, you may have to get creative.
Pet ownership can be specified in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If you are already in a divorce case, you and your spouse can come to formal agreement about the pet.
If children are also involved, it is usually best for the pet to live where the children will be living primarily. Concerns about space and stability are also important for pets.
Solutions to Questions of “Pet Custody”
Like any issue in a divorce, if the two sides cannot come to an agreement, a mediator may be helpful. When the parties are creating their own agreement, they can creative in ways the court cannot be.
The couple could agree that one spouse is the primary caretaker of the pet, but that the other spouse has regular visitation. The spouses could agree that the person who does not live with the pet will be the first choice to care for the animal should the primary owner have to go out of town. Working together on a compromise is usually the best way to make sure both spouses are satisfied with the results, and, often, are in the best interests of the pets.
If you are thinking of filing a divorce, or are in the middle of a divorce, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney right away. You need to understand your rights and your options. Call 630-232-9700 today to schedule a consultation.