Trusted since 1985

How To Handle Pets In A Divorce

What about Fido and Felix?

Visit us at

We the People of New York
233 W. 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 633-2200

How To Handle Pets In A Divorce

How To Handle Pets In A Divorce

We The People (Vivial)

About 70% of American households have at least one pet. Given this significant number, it's not surprising that, when a couple divorces, pet custody often becomes a major concern. Here is what you need to know about handling pets in a fast divorce.

From a legal perspective, New York considers pets to be property. While most pet owners would never think of their beloved animals as property like a car or home, the law does view pets this way, and it's important to understand this when drawing up fast divorce plans. Just as you make plans to divide property between the two of you, such as ownership of the home and dispersal of jointly held financial assets, there should also be plans to determine ownership of pets.

When handling your own fast divorce, you have more freedom in deciding who should get the pet. Many divorcing spouses in this situation can establish pet ownership between themselves without the interference of the courts. When determining custody, both spouses should ask themselves some important questions. Did the pet belong to one spouse before the marriage? Is one spouse better able to provide for the physical, emotional, and financial needs of the pet? Do the children have a special bond with the pet, and, if so, which spouse will have primary custody of the children? Answering these questions will tell you which spouse is better suited for custody of the pet.

If you and your spouse are having trouble finding a mutually agreeable solution, there are options to consider. Instead of one spouse having primary custody of the pet, you might want to set up a schedule in which the two of you share custody. Perhaps the pet will alternate weeks with each spouse. Another option is to give the noncustodial pet parent regular visitation with a pet, such as an afternoon a week when the pet can spend time with the other spouse. Be sure to keep the needs and best interests of the pet in mind when coming up with your plans. The animal would need to be comfortable being shuttled between homes and having time away from their home base.