Who Gets to Keep the Dog After a Divorce?
Divorce is never easy, particularly when beloved children or cherished pets are involved in the process. Child custody is determined based on what’s in the best interest of the child, but the same is not true for family pets. Unfortunately, most courts still view pets as property, and because of this, courts are only supposed to consider the ownership and monetary value of a pet.
How the Courts Decide Pet Ownership
While some states, including California, Alaska, and Illinois, have fought to change the view of pets simply as property, they are still thought of this way in most divorce courts in the United States. Often, the pet will be placed with whomever bought or adopted the pet initially, or the spouse that has their name on the receipt or adoption papers.
Do What’s Best for the Pet
Because of the way that courts view pets, it’s ideal for each spouse to determine who the dog should live with on their own, without the assistance of the court. When making this decision, it’s important for both parties to do what’s best for the pet and for any children of the marriage who are attached to the pet. Spouses going through a divorce should consider the following questions:
Will the pet have to be moved?
Will the kids be separated from a pet they are attached to?
Do you really want the pet, or are you just taking the pet from your spouse out of spite?
Does your job allow you to be an attentive pet owner?
Will bonded pets have to be separated?