The Law Does Not Consider Your Pet As Family During Divorce
Any pet owner knows that the pets in our lives are not just animals. They are members of the family. As such, when the family breaks up because two spouses get a divorce, it affects the people in the household, as well as the pets.
Unfortunately, the family courts in Pennsylvania do not view pets in the same way as the people who live with them do. Although some states, such as California, are starting to allow custody proceedings for pets, the same is not true in the Keystone State. Here, pets are still considered property and so, they are dealt with during property division proceedings.
The Division of Pets in a Pennsylvania Divorce
Although pets cannot be divided in the same way as other assets, such as bank accounts or valuable art collections, they are still included as part of property division hearings. In most cases, dividing pets means one party keeps the pet after the dissolution of their marriage and in exchange, the other party will receive additional property of equal value to compensate for the loss.
Still, many pet owners know there is no amount of property that can make up for the love they feel for their pet and so, this loss is often devastating. Fortunately, there are options that can help you avoid this situation.
Reaching a Pet Custody Agreement
Just like any other aspect of a divorce, couples can always reach a custody agreement on their own about who will keep or visit the pet after divorce. Any pet custody agreement should include the party who will primarily keep the pet, as well as a visitation schedule that outlines when the other party can see the pet. The agreement should also include clear provisions for veterinary bills, and which party is responsible for them.
Also just like with any agreement a couple drafts themselves during the divorce process, it is critical that pet custody agreements are fair to all parties. If an agreement is unfair, a judge may void all or a portion of it, leaving the pet subject to property division proceedings again.
How to Keep Your Pet After Divorce
If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse, or you want sole custody of the pet, you have legal options. Presenting the below evidence can prove that you deserve to keep the pet:
- Adoption papers showing that you had the pet before the marriage, which makes the pet separate property,
- Letters or cards showing that the pet was gifted to you and so, is not subject to property division hearings, and
- Any evidence, such as vet bills you paid or invoices for the pet’s licensing, showing that you primarily cared for the animal.
Our Property Division Lawyer in Media Can Help You Keep Your Pet
You have enough to lose during divorce. The thought of losing your pet too, is heartbreaking. At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, our Media property division lawyer can prepare a strong case showing why you should be able to keep your pet, so you have the best chance of a favorable outcome. Call us now at 610-565-6100 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about your legal options.