Couples often have to work out how assets are divided in a divorce. After some discussion, it may seem clear how the house, car, savings and debts are distributed. But, one thing that isn’t always straightforward is who gets to keep the dog or cat.
Many people treat their pets as if they were children. Pets have a special place in many people’s hearts. Someone may be devastated when they realize they may not get their cat or dog in the divorce.
Before it’s decided who keeps a pet in a divorce, there are some factors to consider. Here’s what you should know:
Treating pets as property
The truth about pet ownership is that cats and dogs are treated as if they are property in Rhode Island. This greatly determines who gets a pet in a divorce. If someone owned a pet before marriage, then the pet would likely be a non-marital asset and be given to the original owner.
If a pet was acquired during a marriage, then there are several factors that are often considered before an owner is decided. The court may consider, for example, who bought the pet during the marriage. Other factors can include the well-being of the cat or dog. This may mean the person who plays, cares and spends the most time with the pet may get ownership. If a child has a personal attachment to a pet, then that could also sway a court opinion.
Many people believe, however, that their pets are more than property. A law was pushed so that pets were treated more like children. In a divorce, owners would have had the chance to discuss visitation and custody agreements, including who is responsible for paying for their pets’ needs. The law did not pass, but couples can still discuss their legal options.