In many households, pets are treated like human children. A common concern among divorcing couples is who will get to retain the family pet.
Due to our strong feelings for our pets, it can be challenging to find common ground during a divorce. Many married pairs feel lost when trying to start a family.
In the event that efforts to mediate a dispute outside of court are unsuccessful, you may consult with a divorce attorney in Columbus, Ohio about the various legal options.
Ohio’s Statutes Relating to Pet Custody
The emotional decision-making process surrounding pet custody has been removed by Ohio law. However, pets are not treated as family members under the law; instead, they are considered property, and their worth is determined according to free market principles. The state of Ohio generally recognizes a pet’s value as the amount spent for its adoption or purchase.
Pets are typically given to the person who adopted them in the event of a breakup between unmarried partners. It may be more complicated to determine who gets to keep a pet if it’s obvious that someone gave it to another as a gift.
If you’re getting divorced, you should consider it carefully before adopting a pet. A pet is considered community property if it was acquired during the marriage. Separate property includes items that were bought before marriage.
Judges use varying approaches when deciding who gets custody of the family pet.
Is your divorce case judge a cat or dog lover? Perhaps surprisingly, a judge’s personal feelings about pets can influence how they rule in custody cases involving animals. Pet “custody” arrangements can get creative when a couple can’t agree on where the pet should live. Some judges have even requested public displays of the animal’s adoration to establish the most suitable emotional home for a dog.
However, judges who are more likely to consider pets as possessions than members of the family may recommend solutions that appear cruel. In one infamous case out of California, the judge ordered that the dog be placed into foster care if the couple did not decide within a certain amount of time.
Ahead of time pet custody disputes resolution
To save your relationship from emotional pain later on, it’s essential to have an awkward but honest conversation early on. Prior to even considering divorce, spouses should figure out who would take main responsibility for their pets. A prenuptial agreement can include language about the couple’s pets.
Custody of pets is a contentious topic not just for separating families. A cohabitation agreement can be drafted even when the couple is not married.