It’s common for couples to own a dog, cat, or other house pet during the course of their marriage. Over time, these house pets become part of the couple’s family, which is why it’s so hard for both parties to deal with the thought of losing them in a divorce. Who gets the family pet after a divorce? Here’s what couples should know:
How the Court Treats Pets in Divorce Proceedings
Each state has its own laws regarding who gets the family pet after a divorce. Some states treat pets similarly to children, which means the court can award custody to one or both parties in the divorce. But, New Jersey is not one of these states.
There are no pet custody laws in the state of New Jersey, so the courts classify pets as personal property. As a result, the court has the authority to award ownership of the pet to one spouse in the event of a divorce.
Many judges recognize the emotional bond that exists between an owner and his or her pet. For this reason, some judges have ordered both spouses to share ownership of the pet, which is referred to as “alternating possession.”
How to Handle the Issue of Pet Custody in Divorce Proceedings
If you are worried about never seeing your pet again, it’s best to try to settle your divorce outside of the courtroom. Couples that can settle their divorce in mediation can decide what they want to do with their pet on their own terms instead of letting a judge decide for them. This gives the couple more flexibility and the freedom to create an alternating possession plan that works for them.
If your spouse is not willing to settle outside of the courtroom, it’s important to understand what the judge will consider when determining who should be awarded ownership of the pet. The judge will consider a number of factors, including each party’s relationship with the animal, living arrangements, and child custody agreement. If you want your pet to live with you after the divorce, you must present your case to the judge and convince him to rule in your favor.
Keep your pet by your side after a divorce with the help of the experienced attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC. We will fight tirelessly to ensure you are awarded the family pet in the divorce settlement. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at [email protected], or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation.