Guiding you through the complex, emotional legal issues facing you and your family.

Divorce and your dog: What happens?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2022 | Divorce

One thing the pet owners are often concerned about when facing a divorce is just what is going to happen to that pet after the split. Part of this concern may be because they know that it can be tough on the pet and they are anticipating certain behavioral problems. They’re trying to figure out how they can make the transition go as smoothly as possible, considering how much pets depend on stability in their lives.

But the other reason to ask this question is simply that they don’t know if they’re supposed to look at their pet as property or as a member of their family.

Technically, yes, they went to the shelter or the breeder and they bought the dog for a specified amount of money. This suggests that the dog is property and will be subjected to normal division rules along with everything else. But the relationships that you and your ex have with the dog suggest that it is more akin to a family member, and neither of you may feel like giving up ownership. So what happens?

Setting up a plan

The first option you have is to set up a plan to share the pet with your ex. You could agree to switch ownership back and forth every other week, for instance. If you thought that would be too chaotic for the pet, you could also just set up times for your ex to come over and see them or take them out for the day.

But the key thing to remember here is that you and your ex have to do this on your own and agree to it. The court is not going to help you.

Dividing ownership

If this does end up before the court, they will make a ruling. But they’re going to use property division laws, not custody laws, as the basis for this decision. As noted above, you did purchase the dog and this does qualify it as a piece of property that you own. That’s the perspective the court is going to take, so you need to know that one or the other of you will be awarded the dog if you go this route.

Considering your options

Something like this can be stressful and a bit confusing, so it’s very important that you take the time to really consider all of the options that you have. There are solutions to any issues divorce brings up as long as you know what steps to take.