Who Gets the Pet in a Divorce?

Who Gets the Pet in a Divorce?

Who Gets the Pet in a Divorce?

Posted in Divorce
by Justin Van Den Heuvel

For many families, a pet is seen as another member of the family. When a couple decides to divorce, very few people consider what will happen to the pet and which spouse will walk away as the owner of this beloved family member. At the Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we understand that a pet is more than just an animal and that some people truly love and care for their family pet. Our office is here to help you retain possession of your pet in a divorce and zealously advocate for your rights as the pet’s true owner. To learn more about pet ownership in a Michigan divorce, call or contact our office today.

Developing Pet Custody Laws 

Today, some states are recognizing that a pet is more than simply a piece of personal property in a divorce. California, Illinois, and Alaska have all passed pet custody laws in the last two years that require that in situations where a divorcing couple cannot agree on who should keep the animal, the judge in the case must take into account the well-being of the pet when making a final determination of pet custody. In some cases, the judge has even ruled that the couple share custody of the pet just as they would a human child. These new laws recognize that family pets have feelings, emotions, and connections to their owners that inanimate pieces of personal property do not. 

Michigan Pet Custody Law

Unfortunately, Michigan still abides by the old rules of pet ownership that treat the family pet as another piece of personal property in a divorce. This means that if one spouse owned the family pet before the marriage began, it is considered separate property and will remain the ownership of that spouse. If the pet came into the family after the wedding, it is considered marital property and therefore can end up in the possession of either spouse. If this is the case, there are steps that you can take to help convince the court that you deserve final ownership of the family pet.

A paper trail is always helpful in proving that you deserve to have final possession of the family pet. If your name is on the purchase or adoption papers, make copies for the court. Gather all receipts for dog food, toys, and medicine that you acquired for your pet. Establish a record of who took the pet to the veterinary clinic for shots and medical issues. Document who takes care of the pet day-to-day, including who feeds, walks, plays, and cleans up after the animal. All of these items can go a long way in proving that you deserve the ultimate custody of the family pet.

Talk to Our Office Now

To learn more about pet custody in Michigan divorce cases, call the office or contact us today at the Van Den Heuvel Law Office to schedule a free consultation of your divorce case with a highly qualified divorce attorney. 



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