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Who gets the dog in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2020 | Firm News |

In most situations, the division of property in a divorce is fairly easy. If a couple cannot agree, the court steps in and divides it equitably under the law. You may have to sell the house and split the proceeds or divide up the antiques you own between each other. However, there is one item the law considers property that is not as easy to divide. 

Despite the fact that animals are living creatures that require care and attention, the law still states dogs are property, according to the Huffington Post. While it is a reality that the court could say you have to sell the dog and split the proceeds, more often, the court will approach this a little differently than it would other assets you want to split. 


You always have the option of reaching an agreement outside the court. This is usually going to be in the best interest of your dog. You can create a custody plan much as you would for a child, or one of you can relinquish your rights to the pet. It is up to you to decide if you can. If you cannot, the judge will do it. 

Under the court 

Judges really have little direction on what to do with pets in a divorce. It is up to them to decide because they cannot really follow the same law they do to divide other types of property. After all, if you own a mutt, selling it will not bring in much money and it will only be harmful to the dog. So, many judges get creative. They may even put together a visitation schedule. 

More often, what the court does is determines who owns the dog under the law. The judge may look at the records of the dog’s adoption and consider who cares for the dog the most or who has contributed the most to the care of the dog. He or she will then assign ownership to one of you.