Request a consultation (317) 423-1823

With divorce, who keeps the family pet?

Dogs and cats often become members of the family. When a married couple divorces, one issue that has risen in prevalence in recent years is who receives custody of the animal.

If a couple cannot decide on their own who receives the pet, then the judge may decide. In most cases, dogs and cats are treat as property. Judges may look at things like who “rightfully” owns the animal, and this may come down to who actually adopted the animal and whose name appears on the vet bills. There are many other assets to review during a divorce, so it can sometimes be helpful best to sort out pet ownership in advance.

Consider whether an underlying issue is present

As with many matters in a divorce, the issues of ownership of a pet may not actually be about having a fluffy animal at home. Some people will view it as a power move rather than a legitimate desire to have the animal live with them rather than their ex, or let the matter become a battleground over some other issue. However, property division can be complex, and fighting over pet ownership may only drag things out further.

Do what is best for the pet

One spouse may want to keep the couple’s dog because he or she has grown attached to it. However, it can be important to focus on a dog’s health and well-being. So, individuals may want to keep their pet’s well-being in mind when it comes to the issue of what will happen with the pet in the divorce. Things individuals might want to think about on this front include:

  • If there are multiple animals, whether the animals should stay together
  • What living arrangement what be least disruptive to a pet
  • If there are children, whether it would be best for the pet to stay with the kids

As this illustrates, there can be a lot for individuals to give careful thought to when it comes to issues involving pets in divorces.