According to the American Pet Products Association survey taken in 2015, there are 80 million American households with pets. However, courts have done little to clarify their status in a divorce. One couple agreed to share custody of their 9-year-old German shorthaired pointer after both of their lawyers couldn't help them during divorce settlement talks.
They eventually agreed to transfer the dog between their homes every two weeks. However, it can be difficult to enforce an agreement if it is broken or otherwise disputed after a divorce. In most cases, the law treats a pet like a couch or a plant. In other words, it is seen as a piece of property despite having no actual value other than the emotional attachment an owner may have.
While it may be used as a bargaining chip in some cases, the court may have leeway to split property as it sees fit. Individuals who want custody of the cat or dog after a divorce may want to present evidence showing they were the ones taking care of it. This may be done by showing that an individual spent his or her own money to purchase or care for the animal. Judges may also take into account the best interest of the pet in determining custody.
It is common for pets to be treated as property in a divorce, which means that they are subject to property division laws. Therefore, it may be a good idea to buy a pet and care for it with funds acquired before the marriage. Those want custody of a pet may also benefit by talking to an attorney.