Divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience for everyone involved, especially if there are pets in the family. When couples decide to part ways, one of their biggest concerns may be how to handle custody of their beloved animals.
Can a dog get lost in the shuffle during a divorce? Who has the legal right to keep the pooch once the dust has settled? Here is a broad exploration of these questions and some insight into this complex issue.
What Rights Do Pet Owners Have in a Divorce?
More courts are starting to recognize the emotional bond between pets and their owners, and they are taking steps to address the issue.
In some cases, judges may assign joint custody or visitation rights for pets. Dog owners should work with their lawyers to help preserve the relationship with their furry friends.
How Pet Ownership Is Viewed Under the Law
pets are beloved members of our families, wagging their tails and purring their way into our hearts. Legally speaking, however, they are considered property.
Any property you acquire during the marriage is classified as “marital property,” owned by both spouses equally. As with any marital property, you must claim entitlement to keep your dog.
Proving That You Are the Dog’s Rightful Owner
To claim entitlement to your dog, gather evidence that demonstrates that you are the primary caregiver and have a stronger emotional bond with it. This could include proof that you provide the dog with food, water, shelter, exercise, and veterinary care. You can also use testimony from friends, family, or neighbors who have observed your relationship with the dog.
Remember that your spouse had a connection with the animal, too, so be willing to negotiate with them. As previously stated, you can work out a visitation or custody deal, enforceable by the courts.
Resources for Pet Owners Facing Divorce
Luckily, there are resources available to help you through this challenging time. First and foremost, be sure to seek out support from friends and family. Having a strong support system is crucial. Additionally, there are countless online forums and communities specifically designed for pet owners facing divorce.
When it comes to legal advice, you can turn to us for help. Masella Law Firm, P.A. is here to fight for everything you deserve in your divorce, even your four-legged property.
Coping With Losing the Dog in Your Divorce
Ultimately, you must face the reality that, in most situations, one spouse will keep the dog. People often lose beloved property in a divorce, and your dog is considered property. Even if you retain some form of custody, you won’t be around your fuzzy pal every day, and that loss can create a real impact on your life.
Remember that it's ok to grieve and to take the time you need to come to terms with the situation. Seek support from friends, family, animal grief support groups, or even a mental health professional.
However, now is not the time to focus on the potential sadness of your divorce. Now is the time to work hard to keep what is yours, especially your best buddy! Our firm is ready to work hard and help you keep your pets. Divorce is hard enough without losing your dog in the process. We understand that, and we’re here to stand by your side.
For a free consultation, call our office at (803) 938-4952 or fill out our online contact form.