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What happens to the family dog in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2021 | Family Law |

If you’re getting divorced with children, you typically have to share custody with your ex. This means devising a child custody schedule where the children live with you part of the time and with your ex the other part of the time, and you exchange custody on a set schedule. There are many different schedules you can choose from — every other week, every three days, one parent getting the kids on weekends, etc. 

But what about if you have a family dog? Do you set up some sort of a custody schedule? After all, you likely feel like that dog is part of your family, just like a child. 

Legally speaking, your dog is property

The law technically defines pets as property. If you bought the dog together, that means you can both claim ownership. Your dog will be subject to division, along with your other property, so one of you will get the dog and the other will get another asset with similar value. 

For instance, perhaps you have a purebred breed that costs $3,000. If you want to keep the dog yourself, your ex may ask for home furnishings, artwork, or simply an extra portion when you divide your joint bank account. They are not obligated to share any time with you. 

Of course, you can set up a custody schedule of sorts, if you’d like to do so, allowing both of you to have time with the pet. But there is no legal demand that this type of setup is created. After the property division process has been concluded, the person who did not receive the pet has no legal right to see them. 

A situation like this can be emotional and complicated, so make sure you fully understand your legal rights and options. There may be solutions to your concerns hat you haven’t even considered.