Monday, September 24, 2012


Your pets (dog/cat/bird/fish/snake/tarantula/iguana/sugar baby/gerbil or guinea pig) is often a major issue in your dissolution of marriage.  Obviously, pets can be a complex issue in a divorce as, in one way they are your best friend (you probably like them better than your spouse or child) and on the other hand they are “property” as much as your couch or big screen TV.  If you have a marriage of several years and your pets are several years old, everyone – the husband and wife, and the child(ren) may be very attached to the pets.  Pets also cost money, which can be very expensive in your post-dissolution of marriage budget, but pets often provide the only stability and rational thought to the child(ren) during the dissolution process.  The issue is what do you do with your pets?  If you reach a settlement agreement and you are amicable with your spouse, you can do about anything you want with your pets from sharing the pets, having the pets go back and forth with your child(ren), sharing the expenses of the pets, or dividing the pets.  As with all issues in your divorce, it is better to resolve in a rational and fair manner with your spouse because you can be much more creative in your settlement agreement versus a trial.  If you cannot resolve the issue of your pets with your spouse (either partially or not resolving the entire dissolution case) then it will be part of your trial and the judge will decide the destiny of your pets.  The problem is pets are “property” in the dissolution of marriage and therefore the judge will distribute (give) the pets to one party or the other.  Technically the judge could convey joint ownership, but I have never seen this happen.  Therefore, contrary to popular belief, a judge does not order “joint custody” of your pets.  Also note the cost of your pet is an additional need to be discussed in the alimony portion of your case.  As with dividing up cars, houses, bank accounts, personal property, the pets are divided up too, and therefore it is possible that a pet is distributed to your spouse and you will never see that pet again, and if your spouse is a sadistic person and they know that pet is of great love and sentimental value to you, they may even insinuate abuse of that pet to you in order to emotionally control you and to obtain other concessions from you after the judge has entered the Final Judgment dissolving your marriage and his or her determination of property distribution, time sharing with the children, and monetary issues.  Therefore, you should fully discuss with your attorney the sentimental value of your pets to you and your children, and if you cannot resolve the issue by agreement, the issue of your pets must be taken as seriously as all other issues in your case, because it is often that a pet is as important to you as someone you love and it is property that is more sentimental to you than any other asset.