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What You Need to Know About Pet Custody After a Breakup

pet custody

A pet can almost hold the same spot in a person’s heart as a child. They’re important parts of the family, they offer emotional support, and they a huge piece of relationships in a lot of cases. 

The thing is, what happens when you break up or get a divorce? Who gets to keep the pet and why? The reality of getting separated from your pet can be really painful, so it’s important to know what the laws are regarding pet custody after a breakup or divorce. 

That way, you know what your options are and you can act accordingly. 

Understanding Pet Custody

A significant breakup can be as emotionally painful as divorce, but the laws aren’t always the same on how property gets distributed and who has a claim to what.

Although it might seem heartless, the reality is that pets are considered property and aren’t treated in the same way that children are. This is an unfortunate reality for couples who are both attached to an animal and can’t find a way to give equal visitation. 

Seeing as animals are considered property, the person who bought the pet typically has the claim to keep it. If one person in question owned the pet before the relationship started, that person has a clear right to the animal and there’s not much else that can be done unless there’s a clear argument otherwise. 

One alternative is that the animal was purchased as a gift for the other person’s partner. In that case, if it was clearly a gift, the other partner might have a good claim to the animal as well. 

Of course, just because one person purchased an animal doesn’t mean they were the dominant owner. The planning, raising, training, and loving of a pet happen through the entire process, it doesn’t matter who runs to the pet store to make the purchase.

The law looks at the animal more in terms of value than it does emotional impact, though. In terms of a divorce, the animal is considered a marital asset. 

Distribution of Assets

A divorce requires that the two parties distribute their shared property equally in most cases. Property can’t always be divided in half, of course, so there has to be a distribution of in terms of value. So, one person gets the $2,000 living room set, and the other gets both of the $1,000 pieces of artwork. 

The same goes for the pet of the house. There’s got to be a value assigned to it, whether that is strictly based on the cost of the pet or an estimation of the emotional value. 

This is where the process gets tricky and it’s unfortunate that there aren’t laws that allow one owner to get visitation rights or partial custody. 

Need a Pet Custody Lawyer?

Put custody issues are complex, and there are often ways that you can try and get ownership of your pet in a breakup. Whatever your situation, we’re here to help you work through it and come to a solution. 

Contact us for more information and get started with a plan for addressing your pet custody issue. 

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