Courts decide where children end up living when parents get a divorce. They also determine who maintains possession of pets after a marriage dissolves.
You might find it surprising that the law considers animals to be personal property. As such, divorce court judges typically shoulder this decision.
What do judges consider when choosing who gets a pet?
Your barking, meowing or squawking family member is either separate or community property. If the former, the pet winds up with the primary owner. Should your situation reflect the latter, other variables figure into the equation.
Who took responsibility for acquiring the pet? Ownership papers often name the initiator of the adoption. This person is likely to triumph in court.
Another matter is who provides the most care. The person commonly feeding, grooming and attending vet visits tends to prevail.
Like with children, judges consider the welfare of the animal. Which spouse is better able to provide a healthy, loving environment? A child could have a particular attachment to the pet. The parent getting custody of that dependent usually emerges victorious.
Do judges consider when the family pet is a service or emotional support animal?
Pets that assist the disabled normally remain with the owner who benefits. Emotional support animals are another matter. Your former partner might still wind up getting Fido or Fluffy. Provide the judge with paperwork showing the pet serves a mental health purpose.
Many factors determine who wins possession of your nonhuman child. Knowing them helps everyone remain at peace no matter the final ruling.