Earlier this year, Alaska saw a new law go into effect. That law requires that courts now take an animal’s well-being into consideration during a divorce. It also lets judges consider joint custody of a pet.
While Alaska may be the only state with this type of law, a Rhode Island legislator has introduced a similar bill. However, across most of the country, pets are still considered property in most courtrooms during a divorce.
While this could be hard to fathom for some pet owners, there are some ways that determining who ends up with the beloved animal can be easier. One way is to only put one person’s name on the paperwork for the animal. This may be adoption paperwork, but it can also be veterinary records or bills, pet sitting payments and more. That will make it very clear which person has ownership of the animal.
Unfortunately, if the animal is seen as property in court, when you got the animal will matter. If you brought the pet into the marriage, it will likely be seen as non-marital property by the court. If you got the animal after you married, then it would be seen as marital property. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement could specify who would retain possession of the animal if a divorce were to occur.
While it may be too late to consider these options because you have already decided to file for divorce, you may have to give up some other property to get custody of the pet. In order to determine what your options are for dealing with your pet during a divorce, you should ask your Pennsylvania divorce attorney how to proceed.
Source: timestelegram.com, “Who gets the dog in the divorce?,” Matt Lindner, April 01, 2017