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How to Handle Pets in a Divorce

When we think of divorce, we typically think of dividing property and child custody. But what if you have pets? How can you guarantee that you’ll be able to see your beloved pets after your marriage ends?

Pets in the eyes of the law

Generally, pets are treated as property in the eyes of the law. In short, if one spouse owned their pet before their marriage, that owner is likely to keep them after they divorce. That is, if your wife owned Fluffy the Husky before you got married, and you’re divorcing now, your wife will probably retain ownership of Fluffy under the law.

Of course, spouses can always make their own agreement—and when children are involved, it can get more complicated. For example, if your spouse has primary custody of your children and they’re attached to Fluffy, you might want to consider letting Fluffy live with them because they are so bonded. Judges may also take this into consideration when deciding who gets the beloved family pets. After all, being around the family pet can give children some comfort during a stressful divorce.

If both spouses have a claim to the pets, it’s up to you to negotiate whether you want to keep them in divorce. Some spouses also want to keep paired pets together, because they’ve bonded. While both spouses are often free to present arguments about how important the pets are to them and what it means to keep them in their homes, there’s no guarantee to whom the pets may go.

Ultimately, if you can’t agree on how to handle the pets, working with a divorce attorney is crucial. To learn more about your options in divorce, call the experienced divorce lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN today.

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