You don’t have any children, so custody issues are not likely in your divorce. You do have to divide property, though, and you’ve been listing out your assets as you prepare to go to divorce court.
When you get to your pet, you realize that maybe custody is a bigger issue than you realized. The two of you bought the pet together and share all of the responsibilities, and you’d both still like to be involved, so who is going to get custody?
Your pet is property, legally speaking
The truth is that no one gets custody of a pet. Your pet is property under the law. You divide ownership as you do with other types of property.
For instance, say you paid $800 for your dog. The couch in the living room also cost $800. The court could decide to divide assets by letting one of you keep the couch and the other keep the dog. You can already see the problem there. Your dog may have cost as much as a couch, but the “value” of your pet is nowhere near the same. You think of your pet like family.
The issue is that people didn’t always view their pets this way. Many were more like property than anything else — for instance, dogs used on farms to herd sheep and protect the flock. In 2021, most people own a dog because they love it and they value that companionship, but the law lags behind this modern view and still defines the pet as property.
As such, it’s very important for you to understand exactly what options you have while going through this divorce.