Who Gets The Pets In A Divorce

Who Gets the Pets in a Divorce?

Are you feeling lost in the maze of divorce proceedings, especially regarding the fate of your beloved pets? Don't worry; we're here to help. In this article, we'll explore pet custody laws, the factors judges consider, and the role a guardianship attorney plays in ensuring your pet's well-being. Discover how to navigate pet custody disputes and learn about options like pet trust and joint custody. You'll be better equipped to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for you and your furry friends.

The Law Surrounding Pet Custody After a Divorce

Navigating the choppy waters of divorce can be challenging, especially when it comes to determining who gets custody of your beloved pets. Historically, pets have been considered personal property, but as more people view them as family members, the law has started to shift. Some jurisdictions have begun to treat pets as living beings, considering their best interests in custody decisions. However, this varies from state to state, so it's crucial to consult a guardianship attorney to understand the specific laws in your area.

What Power Does the Court Have With Pet Custody?

The court can step in and decide on pet custody, similar to how they handle child custody. They may look into factors such as who primarily cares for the pet and who has the better living situation between the two parties. Agreements made during the marriage can also influence the case. 

How Judges Determine Custody

Judges often look at several factors, such as the primary caregiver, who purchased the pet, and who has the most suitable living environment. Meanwhile, the pet's attachment to each party and any special needs the animal may have may also weigh in their decision.

What If The Pets ‘Belong’ to My Children?

If the pets are considered to 'belong' to the children, the court may choose to treat the pets similarly to child-related matters. The court could favor the primary custodial parent, or the pet must be shared between households. Hence, establishing a pet trust can help ensure the animal's needs are met, regardless of the living situation.

What Is a ‘Petnup’?

A 'petnup' is a prenuptial agreement specifically designed to address pet custody issues in the event of a divorce. This legal document, created with the help of a guardianship attorney, outlines who will have custody of the pet, how expenses will be divided, and any visitation rights for the non-custodial party. A 'petnup' can prevent a dog-eat-dog battle in court and provide a clear path forward for both parties and their pets.

Can You Get Joint Custody?

Joint custody for pets can be a viable option for divorcing couples willing to work together in the best interest of their pets. This arrangement allows both parties to maintain a relationship with the pet and share responsibilities like care, expenses, and decision-making. Joint custody agreements should be clearly outlined in a pet trust to avoid misunderstandings or disputes.

Do I Have Any Options to Legally Get My Dog Back?

If you feel you've been unfairly denied custody of your pet, it's important not to throw in the towel just yet. There may be legal options available to help you reclaim custody. This could involve petitioning the court to reconsider the custody decision, providing evidence of your ability to care for the pet, or negotiating a new agreement with your ex-spouse. Consulting a guardianship attorney can help you understand your options and develop a strategy to regain your pet's custody.

How Will an Attorney Help Me?

An attorney is like a compass, guiding you through the complex legal landscape surrounding pet custody during a divorce. They can provide invaluable advice on the laws in your jurisdiction, help you create legally binding pet agreements like a pet trust, and represent you in court if necessary. A guardianship lawyer is well-versed in pet custody's legal intricacies and can help protect your rights and your pet's best interests. With their expertise, they can help you navigate the stormy seas of pet custody disputes and reach a resolution that benefits you and your furry friend.


Pet custody disputes can be an emotionally charged aspect of a divorce. Understanding the laws surrounding pet custody, exploring options like joint custody and pet trusts, and enlisting the help of an attorney can make a world of difference in reaching a favorable outcome for both you and your beloved pets.

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