What Happens to my Pets in a Divorce?

With so many different things to consider while going through a divorce, one of the primary concerns may be what happens to your furry friends. Because pets are living animals, but also considered property, they can seem to be in a grey area when it comes to possession after a divorce. Thankfully, Arizona has defined rules for how pets are to be handled in divorce proceedings.

Community versus separate property

The first thing to consider is when the pet was acquired. If either you or your spouse owned the pet before the marriage, it is considered separate property and will be assigned to the spouse who owned the pet previously. This is because Arizona is a community property state. We won’t go into community property in depth here, but generally, this means that any property obtained during the marriage is considered to be owned by both spouses, and any property owned individually beforehand remains the property of that person.

What happens if our pet is considered community property?

If you got your pet during the marriage, it will be considered community property. In this case, there are several things the judge will take into consideration during your case. Just like most items in a divorce, they will consider the value of the pet to both spouses. Value, in this case, isn’t the cash value of your pet, but instead the value of owning that pet according to each person. If you have a significantly stronger bond with your pet, and your spouse does not, the judge may assign the pet to you instead of them. 

Also taken into consideration are the living situation and other assets that are being split in the divorce. If children are involved, and the children have a significant bond with the animal, the judge may consider assigning the pet to whichever spouse gains custody of the children. 

It’s also possible that through mediation, or necessity, an animal’s custody is shared between the spouses. When going through mediation for a divorce, it can be agreed upon that the pet is shared and swapped between households similar to shared custody of a child. If both spouses are unable to take care of the animal individually, it may become necessary to share custody.

How can I keep my pet through a divorce?

When navigating divorce proceedings and mediation, it’s essential to have counsel that will help you fight for your fair share. Monahan Law Firm has the experience in divorce proceedings necessary to make sure you get the settlement you need. Get in contact with us today at (623) 385-3190 to schedule a consultation.

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