Photo of Professionals at McCoy Fatula, APC
Photo of Professionals at McCoy Fatula, APC

Property division in divorce: Who gets the pets?

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2018 | Property Division

California couples and others around the nation who are going through a divorce have many matters to consider. If there are children involved, custody, visitation and support are obviously major issues to address. Of course, for any couple, property division is of utmost concern. While most attention may be focused on the family home, bank accounts or retirement funds, many couples are now trying to decide which person will get to keep the pets.

Over the last five years, there have been many more custody cases involving pets, according to the Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Their surveys showed that dogs, with 88 percent of the cases, topped the list of pets. Cats were second on the list, representing 6 percent of the disputes, while horses and several other animals combined also were at 6 percent. Experts acknowledge that, in some instances, separating couples have more difficulty determining custody of the pets than in splitting their assets.

Some states have either passed or are considering legislation that would treat pet custody in much the same way as child custody. The courts would then consider the well-being of the pet when determining custody. However, many states, like California, treat pets as property when determining how items will be divided. Experts recommend that couples planning to marry should address the issue of pet ownership in a prenuptial agreement should the marriage end in divorce.

While every couple may not have pets, the issue of property division is a critical one for those going through a divorce. To protect one’s best interests throughout the entire process, it would be advantageous to retain the services of a knowledgeable California divorce lawyer. A trusted attorney will see that a client’s current and future needs are considered and addressed in the proceedings.

Source:, “Pets increasingly becoming divorce battleground“, Susan Peck, March 27, 2018

FindLaw Network