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Divorce: Pet Ownership Decided

Who winds up with the family pet is something you must be mindful of before entering divorce proceedings. Divorce can be tough on just about everyone and the last thing you need is the unpleasant surprise of having your dear cat or dog taken away from you.

In this article, we’ll discuss the factors that courts often consider when deciding who retains ownership of the family pet following a divorce. Learn more about what divorce proceedings could mean for your kitten or puppy so you can prepare better for it.

How Courts Determine Pet Ownership

Laws around the country are evolving to better account for how family pets are treated. However, many of those changes are not in effect just yet. That’s why most courts still treat pet custody as a matter of property ownership.

Because of the way most courts regard pets, certain factors will play a huge role in determining who ultimately ends up with custody of the family cat or dog. Those factors include the name registered on the pet’s microchip, the name of the pet owner registered with the veterinarian, the name of the pet owner listed in the pet insurance contract, and the party who purchases the pet’s food and other needs.

If you cannot remember whose name is on your pet’s microchip, the San Francisco SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) notes that you can check adoption papers for that bit of information. Both your veterinarian and the database provided by the American Animal Hospital Association can also help with that.

The court may render a decision if one party can clearly establish their ownership of the pet. Absent that, the court may have to take other matters into account.

Weighing the Best Interests of the Pet

What happens if neither side is able to prove that they are the owner of the family pet? In that scenario, the court may base its decision on the best interests of the pet.

While deciding on the fate of the family pet, the judge may consider which household could offer the pet better living conditions. One party may have a yard for the family dog and they may also be able to purchase pet food regularly without much trouble. The court could lean in their direction for those reasons.

The presence of children could be a factor as well. A judge may decide to keep the pet with whoever has primary custody of the children to maintain those bonds.

Hopefully, the details included in this article have helped you understand how divorce proceedings could affect pet ownership in your case. In a situation like that, it’s also important to get your lawyer fully involved so they can help you retain ownership of your precious pet.

We at TAILored Pet Services can also help as we can watch over your dog while you visit your attorney during a divorce. Schedule your visit today by either contacting us through website or calling/texting 425-923-7791.



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