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Divorce and the family pet

Many Saint Lucie area residents have pets. Animals are an extension of their family and are well-loved. When a couple decides that divorce there are many issues that need to be worked out. One may be what will happen to the family pet.

During a divorce, there are many different issues that can cause problems. There are complex asset division issues, marital property disputes, retirement accounts, and issues regarding children. But, the family pet may also be a point of contention. According to the National Pet Owner's Survey, 68% of American families own a pet. For many families, these pets are like children. So what happens to these pets in the event of a divorce? Pets are considered property in a divorce. If the pet belonged to one of the spouse's before the marriage, then that spouse will get it after the divorce is finalized. Otherwise, many factors can be considered including who feeds the dog, brings it to the veterinarian, walks it, etc. If one spouse clearly does this more than the other, that spouse may want to gather evidence to support them. A vet can write a letter saying which spouse brings the pet in, a neighbor may be able to support who walks the pet, etc. Saving receipts for dog food and other pet supplies, and other pet purchases, licenses, etc. can work in that spouse's favor.

In addition to who takes care of the pet, many times the pet will stay with the children. Also, one spouse may not have a lifestyle that supports taking care of a pet. If they work long hours or travel often, the other spouse may be better suited for pet ownership. In any case, a legal professional who is skilled in divorce can help their client with all divorce issues. A divorce is an emotional time and decisions made during the process can affect a person's life for a long time. An attorney understands how important making good decisions is and can advise their client throughout the complicated process.

Pets are often members of the family. During a divorce they can be an issue that can be complicated and contentious.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "Who gets the pets in a divorce? What you need to consider when fighting over Fido", Maria Moya, Jan. 19, 2014

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