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Can you keep your dog after a divorce?

On Behalf of | May 5, 2022 | Property And Debt Division |

Thinking a divorce can separate you from your dog can keep you up at night. You may have raised them since they were a little puppy. You trained and cared for them all their life. Now a divorce might be the thing that ends your care for them.

This might get you wondering: “How can I keep the family dog?” Here’s what you should know:

Legally, pets are property in this state

Many states are on the fence about how pets should be considered in a relationship. Some states treat pets like a child going through a divorce. Others, like Alabama, look at pets like they’re personal property, akin to a fridge or couch. Absent a “pet-nup” agreement, your dog will have to be treated like any other part of the marital estate.

This could be a good thing for you if your pet was bought under your name since that shows ownership. Not only that, but you may have more right to take your dog in a divorce if you are the dog’s primary caregiver. 

When determining ownership, the court may look at things like whether you were responsible for paying for your dog’s food, vet or other services. It’ll even show in your favor if you were responsible for taking your dog to the park or taking them for walks. 

Children may also be a big factor in getting custody of your dog. A judge might favor leaving the dog with whoever has primary care of the children if the dog is affectionate to them. Additionally, there are many reasons people get divorced and abuse might be one of them. If your spouse puts your dog in danger then that might support your reason to gain custody of your dog. 

If you’re worried about your dog in a divorce

If you’re looking to obtain a divorce and hesitating because of a pet then it’s time to find out more about your legal options. You might find gaining custody of your pet is much more feasible than you might think.