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Who gets the pets in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2022 | Divorce

South Carolina residents love their dogs, cats, birds and other pets and consider them members of the family. If a married couple with a pet gets divorced, the situation is often very sad as they wonder who gets custody. Knowing how to navigate pet custody can make things easier.

Pets are considered property

Unfortunately, courts consider pets property rather than beloved members of the family. When a marriage ends, the court decides who gets the family pet based on factors such as who has paid various bills related to it. For example, if one person bought instead of adopted the pet, the judge might deem it to be their property. One exception is if they bought the pet as a gift for their spouse.

How to handle pet custody during divorce

Certain steps can help your cause if you’re ending your marriage and have a pet. You and your spouse might be able to share custody of your pet if you work out a deal, put it in writing and present it to the judge. This is like devising a co-parenting plan.

Put your pet first when making a decision about who gets custody. Depending on the type of pet you share with your spouse, one of you might be better equipped to care for them than the other. For example, if you have a large dog but recently moved into a tiny apartment, it might not be the best situation. Likewise, if you have a parrot and know how to properly care for them but the same isn’t true about your spouse, your bird would probably be better off in your custody.

If you have children, you should consider how pet custody will impact them. If you have sole custody, your spouse getting your pet would probably hurt your child.

Just like when children are involved, pets can make divorce more complex and emotional. These tips might help when deciding who gets the pet.