Nancy L. Sponseller

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Dealing with pet disputes

On behalf of Law Office of Nancy L. Sponseller posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Ohio families may expect disputes to arise over who should get the children and who should get the house when divorce is pending. However, one often overlooked “asset” in divorce cases is the family pet.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there have been more disputes regarding pets in family law cases in recent years. About 62 percent of American households own at least one pet. While individuals often feel and treat their animals as though they are part of the family, courts generally treat pets like any other piece of property. Therefore, the value of a pet is subject to property division, just like furniture. If the spouses make any money off of breeding and selling the animals, pets may also be considered business assets.

While courts do generally treat pets like inanimate objects, some aspects of the decision read more like a child custody case. For examples, courts may inquire into which party has provided more care for the animal. This may be considered physical care or care through purchase of food, supplies and medicine. The court may also investigate which party’s lifestyle is more conducive to raising a pet.

Individuals who are going through divorce may decide to consult with a family law attorney. By taking this step, they may be able to bring up any topics that might be disputed, such as custody of children or pets. A lawyer may be able to help bolster an argument for why one spouse should wind up with custody over another, such as being a primary caregiver or providing for the loved one’s needs.

Source: Forbes, “How Are Pets Handled In Divorce?“, Jeff Landers, April 17, 2014