If tears rush to your eyes at the thought of being forced to part with the family pet, you are indeed a pet lover. You will have trouble with the idea of your pet as property that will get divided among the furniture, the jewelry and the vacation house. In Tennessee, the court uses the legal principle of equitable distribution to divide marital assets in divorce, which means that instead of splitting everything down the middle with half for him and the other half for her, the court uses about a dozen factors including the length of the marriage, the age health, education and economic resources of each party to decide how the property will be distributed. The court errs on the side of dividing the property fairly even if that does not mean that each gets exactly half. But if you see your family pet as a member of your family rather than a part of the marital estate what can you do to make sure that you get “custody.”
Your pet is your personal property, not your child
While you think of your dog Spot as a loved one, you must think of her as your property that you would like to retain ownership of during your divorce. And, while for the purposes of this post we are referring to the pet as a dog, all of this holds true for a cat or other family pet. Now in the best possible world, you and your partner would sit down and discuss what each one would like to keep and what you are willing to give up. You could decide on where the pet would live, and whether you will allow the other party to visit and spend time with the pet.
However, if you are involved in a less amicable split, your partner might be looking to use your affection for Spot against you. They might try threaten to take the pet unless you are willing to relinquish something else that they have their eye on.
You want to establish ownership of the pet, so gather together the documents that prove your ownership of the animal, such as adoption paperwork, or purchase receipts. Other evidence that is helpful in proving ownership would include receipts from veterinary care, boarding kennels and from the groomer, and receipts for purchasing pet food and supplies
You also want to show that you will be living in a place where the animal will have the space they need, and that you will have the time and energy to give the pet the attention they need.
If you anticipate that deciding “custody” of the family pet is going to be an issue that might cause conflict in your divorce, the experienced Columbia divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates can work with you to develop an agreement about your pets and all your other assets in your Tennessee divorce.
An experienced, Franklin divorce attorney from the law office of Adrian H. Altshuler has helped countless clients before you end their marriage and get on with their lives. Our family law attorneys advise you on all the financial and tax ramifications of divorce, and we will answer any questions you might have about resolving the divorce and moving on with the next part of your life. If you are thinking about divorce, call us at 615.412.1121 or fill out our contact form. We proudly serve clients throughout Tennessee from our additional office in Brentwood, too.