When couples decide to end their marriage, it usually means making decisions about who gets the house, separating bank accounts and child custody arrangements. Some also have to decide what to do with the family pet. A growing trend to pass laws that would allow pets to be treated like children during a divorce. In Wyoming and most other states, while battles may rage over who gets to keep the family dog, pet custody is not formally recognized.
Recent surveys show a marked increase in ‘custody’ cases involving family pets. However, most states still refer to them as personal property, and they are often dealt with the same way as furniture, artwork or housewares. If the pet was a gift or if one spouse brought the pet into the marriage, it would not likely be considered marital property subject to division.
Experts suggest that couples mediate pet custody issues and have a resolution in place before a divorce gets to court. Determine who will assume financial responsibility and define the maximum expense allowed. Many judges and court systems still designate pets as property and may not consider who is the better pet parent or what is right for the pet.
Divorce is one of the most difficult decisions for couples to make. In Wyoming and elsewhere couples may choose to mediate pet custody issues, come to an agreement and have it included in the final divorce judgment. Those entering a marriage with beloved pets involved may consider working together with an attorney to draw up a pet prenup that will protect all parties and pets in the event of a divorce.
Source: hometownlife.com, “Pets increasingly becoming divorce battleground“, Susan Peck, March 27, 2018