Ever since you and your spouse brought your dog home from the shelter, you’ve thought of him as a member of your family. And, in many ways, you take care of your dog the same way a parent takes care of a child. You offer food, shelter, companionship and much more. Both you and your spouse feel this way.
Now that you have decided to get a divorce, you’re not entirely sure what you’ll need to do. Does your dog need a pet custody plan?
The law sees your pet as property
While it has become increasingly common for people to see their pets as people, the law still sees them as property. Your car is also your property, as is your couch or your kitchen table. These things have to get divided up during a divorce, but they are typically not shared. One person gets one item, the other person gets a different item — or the items are sold and the profits are split.
Naturally, it’s absurd to you to think of selling your dog and splitting the money you get for him, no matter what the dog is worth. But you have to remember that the law still doesn’t provide a guarantee of a custody plan, as it does for a child. If you and your ex rely on the court to decide what happens, they may simply choose one person to keep the dog. They may even “balance it out” by giving the other person an asset of equal value. But, even if you get a piece of furniture that costs as much as your dog, will that feel fair to you?
You do have options for complicated issues
Make sure you really understand all of the options that you have as you proceed with a divorce. Often, couples can resolve difficult issues — like the custody of a pet — outside of the courtroom in a way that benefits everybody.