If you and your spouse own a dog and you’re getting divorced, you may be wondering how to get custody. You think of your pet as a member of your family, almost like a child. You want to make sure that you still get to spend time with them after the divorce. Perhaps your spouse has the same goal.
You may not know it, but this can create some serious legal problems. The issue is that the law defines pets as property, not as family members. This generally means that the courts can’t give you a custody order for your pet. If both you and your spouse want to share time, that’s not how they’re going to address the disagreement.
Instead, the court will simply look at the pet as property and determine who is supposed to keep that asset. If your spouse is given the dog, you could be given a different asset that has a similar value. This may not be nearly as valuable to you because you’re not just thinking of the financial side, but the court is.
What can you do?
The best thing to do is to try to work with your ex to come up with a solution that the two of you can agree on. You may even be able to put this into your divorce documentation and have the court sign off. Some couples do share their pets after divorce, moving them back and forth between homes.
If you and your spouse have children, one way to approach this may be to suggest that it would be better for the children to be with their pet all the time. You can then simply pair the pet’s schedule to the children’s custody schedule.
Regardless of the exact specifics of your situation, you can see why it’s so important to understand your legal options as you work through this process.