Pets and Divorce

To many of us, pets are beloved members of the family, important and special to us, and it hurts to think of having to lose our furry friends. But in a divorce, they are property like everything else, and as painful as it is, they have to go somewhere.

It is not uncommon in divorce proceedings for the ownership of pets to be treated similarly to the custody of children. In many cases, arguing spouses attempt to establish that the pet will be better cared for and happier in their respective homes. And you can't put a price on the value of Fido's wagging tail and playful fun.

Dividing Fido

Unlike kids, you can't really divide custody of a dog, so you have to establish definitively who will have ownership of your pet. Here are some suggestions to make the painful task a little bit easier:

  • Who purchased the pet in the first place is important. If your husband came into the relationship with the dog, then he should be allowed to leave the relationship with the dog. Conversely, if your husband gave you the dog as a gift, you have more of a claim on it than he does.
  • Who provided more care for the pet is also important. If your wife was the one who took the cat to the vet, bought it food, and made sure to give it its medication, she may have more right to Mittens than you do.
  • It is also important to consider who will have custody of the children. While it may be painful to lose both the kids and the dog, letting your children keep it may be the more responsible thing to do. A pet can help smooth the strange transition children face when their parents get a divorce.

At the end of the day, though, these points are just suggestions. Every divorce is different, and you will have to come to terms with the issue of who owns the pet yourselves.

Contact Us

If you and your spouse are considering the difficult choice a divorce, or would like to know more about your options, contact the San Diego divorce lawyers of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP by calling 760-722-7646.

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