Thomas M. Gurewitz, Attorney At Law

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Legal Guidance

Why might a judge require proof of who cared for the pets?

| Mar 9, 2021 | animals and divorce |

If you intend to take a pet with you to your new home after divorce, a judge may need to know how that pet would benefit from residing with you instead of your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

A history of taking care of an animal financially, especially if it has specific veterinarian or nutritional needs, may demonstrate your role as a responsible pet parent. Your spouse may, however, attempt to take ownership by claiming that you otherwise neglected or ignored a pet. 

What kind of evidence helps show a relationship with an animal?

Receipts of an animal’s medical care, food, grooming and other needs may show your ability to afford its maintenance. They may not, however, fully counter a spouse’s claim that you did not provide a pet with a sufficient degree of love and attention.

Photographs or videos of you with your pets may show a judge how you interacted with them during your marriage. Playful, happy images may serve as ample proof that you did more than just pay for their expenses. 

What else might cause ownership of a pet to go to one spouse over the other?

If you have kids, your spouse may seek to take ownership of the family pets based on a judge’s award of full-time allocation of parental responsibility for the children. The bond that your kids formed with a dog or cat may provide a legitimate reason for a pet staying with them rather than with you in your new home.

Pet ownership may require thoughtful negotiation and careful planning during a divorce. If you cannot afford to cover an animal’s care, but otherwise appear to be best suited to keep a pet, a judge may honor a request for its financial support as part of a settlement.