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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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  • "Tori had a thorough understanding of my situation and made excellent recommendations to resolve my concerns. She was persistent on communication and handled everything in a very timely manner. I would definitely hire her again in the future if needed." - M.K.

  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties. Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.

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