Many Chicago pet owners likely feel a strong sentimental attachment to their furry friends. Some of these pet owners may also be in the middle of a divorce. This is backed by statistics — 62 percent of households in the U.S. contain no less than one pet, while around 50 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. For those pet owners who are getting close to having to divide assets in divorce property division, they may be wondering what will happen to their pets during this process.
According to a report released by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, pet custody disputes are becoming more and more common in recent years. It is easy to see why. Pet owners often develop strong emotional bonds with their pets and may not wish to part with them. Many may desire to know what happens to their pets in divorce property division and how they can potentially retain ownership.
If it is not too late, one of the best ways to retain ownership of a pet is to include it in a prenuptial agreement. Pets are considered personal property and thus be included in prenuptial agreements. However, prenuptial agreements must be signed before marriage. A postnuptial agreement, on the other hand, can be drafted after a couple is already married.
Many soon-to-be ex-spouses may refuse to sign a postnuptial agreement that includes provisions for pets, in which case the custody battle may have to be fought in court. The court will consider a number of questions. Among these considerations are whether or not one spouse served as the primary caretaker. If one spouse bought the food and cleaned up after the pet significantly more often than the other, that spouse may be found better suited to retain ownership.
This is just one consideration the court will often bring into play. There are a number of others and it is often prudent for divorcees to be aware of them before the divorce process begins.
Source: Forbes, “How Are Pets Handled In Divorce?” Jeff Landers, April 17, 2014