People have different opinions when it comes to the treatment of pets during a divorce. In fact, in addition to property division and child custody, division of pets is also a very emotive issue between divorcing couples. Here are some of the common opinions held by couples:
Let the Pets Stay With the Kids
Some people think that it would be bad for the kids to be separated from the pets. They reason that since the kids are losing some of their family members, and they didn't contribute to the divorce, having the pets stay with the kids would offer them some level of comfort. This means they want the parent who gets custody of the kids to get custody of the pets too.
Give the Pets to Their Buyer
Another school of thought has it that the pets should automatically go to the person who bought them. So you have two pets, a cat and a hamster, the cat should go to the person who bought it and ditto the hamster. In this case, the animals are treated as separate property and not as marital property.
Give the Pets to Their Primary Caretaker
Some people also think that the pets should be awarded to the parent who used to take care of them most when the two of you were still married. For example, if you have a dog, then the parent who used to feed it, take it to the vet, and walk it for exercise is the one who should get to keep it.
Treat the Pets as Marital Property
Then there are those who think that the pets should be divided just like any other marital property. In this case, the monetary value of the pet is determined and then it is included in the property being divided. That way the parent who gets the pet has their share of property reduced by the dollar value of the animal.
Treat the Pets Like Children
Still, some parents argue that their pets are not properties but rather integral members of their families. These parents want their pets to be treated like their children and not their property. This means that the parent with the best relationship with the pets and who is in the best position to take care of them should have the animals.
As you can see, there are myriad opinions when it comes to treatment of pets during a divorce. The courts also have their say, with most jurisdictions treating pets as properties. There is also at least one jurisdiction, Alaska, which considers the best interest of the pets (and not the people) when making this decision. If you are preparing for divorce and own some pets, talk to your divorce attorney so that they can help you protect your rights during their division.