Deciding Who Gets a Pet During a Divorce

Dogs, cats and other pets can be as important to Georgia residents as any other members of their families. Pets help people get through the bad times in their lives and often the months spent involved in a divorce are some of the worst that people ever endure. When a divorce arises and a couple shares a pet, questions can surface over how ownership of the animal should be managed.

Some people plan for worst case marital scenarios and execute prenuptial agreements. With around half of American marriages ending in divorce it can be a wise decision to set up a "prenup" before walking down the aisle. Individuals who have pets or who plan to get pets during their marriages can establish how pets will be cared for in the event the couple splits and property division is warranted.

After marriage couples without prenuptial agreements can enter into postnuptial agreements. These agreements function similarly to prenups and issues regarding pets can be handled in these documents as well. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be used to determine other property matters in advance of a couple's divorce.

For individuals who enter into divorces and do not have agreements regarding pets and property, courts generally view pets as personal property. That means that if a formerly married couple cannot decide who will get the animal after the split, the court will exercise its authority to make that determination.

A court can look at who has a more accommodating lifestyle to care for a pet and if the pet was owned by one of the partners before they entered into the marriage. Other considerations can also be made by a court to decide how best to manage a pet following divorce. However, individuals who want control over where their pets and other pieces of property end up following a divorce may consider making prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

Source: Forbes, "How Are Pets Handled In Divorce?" Jeff Landers, April 17, 2014

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