Many people love their pets like family. Moreover, many younger couples are opting to care for pets before having children – or instead of having children. However, what happens to Walter the basset hound or Fitzgerald the cat if their humans get a divorce?
Alabama considers pets “personal property”
Some states, beginning with Alaska, have begun to enact laws that allow judges to award “custody” of pets in a divorce proceeding based on what is best for their wellbeing. These rules treat pets more like children than divisible property.
Alabama, on the other hand, still considers pets to be “personal property.” If a couple acquired the pet together during their marriage, the pet would be considered marital property subject to equitable division. This means the judge in the divorce proceeding decides which placement of the pet would be most fair to both parties.
If one spouse got their pet before the wedding, they would likely keep it.
Creating your own arrangement regarding pets
A couple going through a divorce can negotiate an agreement regarding their pets. In many cases, “custody” of a pet follows custody of children. It is essential to consider each person’s relationship with the pet, as well as the financial responsibilities that come with it.
In a few cases, a “shared custody” type of arrangement may be possible. However, everyone involved should consider the impact such an agreement would have on their beloved pet. Alternatively, a divorcing couple might work out a visitation schedule. In that case, both parties benefit from having the plan written out to avoid future problems.
Ensuring the best for your pet
Now more than ever, pets occupy a special place in a family. When their fate adds stress to the already challenging process of divorce, it helps to consult with an experienced family law attorney. They can help you determine the best way to address the issue and ensure your pet continues to have a happy life.