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Who Gets the Dog in a Divorce?

One of the issues you’ll need to confront in your divorce is who will get the family dog. For legal purposes, the pet is considered property by the court, but there are, of course, some unique issues associated with pets that divorcing couples will need to work through.

Here’s an overview of what you should know.

Determining pet “custody”

While pets are legally considered property, there are some emotional ties that add a unique element to determining who gets the pet.

If one person brought the pet into the marriage, then the pet is considered nonmarital property, and thus will be their property moving forward. But if the pet came into the household after the marriage began, there are a variety of issues the court will consider. Some such factors include:

  • Children: Who has custody of the children in the marriage? Many courts will consider it to be in the children’s best interest to have the pet living with them for emotional support, and thus will be more likely to give the pet to the custodial parent.
  • Ability to care for it: Courts may consider who is best suited to give the pet the care it needs, including financially providing for basic needs and giving it the time and exercise it needs to live a healthy life.
  • Visitation: Courts may grant pet visitation to divorcing parties, or shared custody similar to child custody. Both parties may have certain assigned times to spend with the dog, and this agreement could be outlined in court documents.

For more information about dealing with dogs during divorce, contact an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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