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What Will Happen to My Pets During a Divorce?


Today, it is becoming more and more common for couples to forestall having children until they are financially able to afford them. The birth rate has declined in recent years for this reason. The need to nurture, on the other hand, is intrinsic to the human condition. Many couples will purchase “fur babies” that become part of their family.

While most people consider pets to be part of their family, pets are considered property under the law. Children are not. When courts assign custody or create visitation schedules, they are considering the best interests of the children. Pets have no such consideration. It’s up to you and your spouse to consider the best interests of the pet when dividing your marital estate.

Pennsylvania treats pets as personal property. This means that the best interests of the pet are not considered by the court. The pets are not assigned attorneys of their own to act as a guardian ad litem. In most cases, the pets will stay with the marital home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work in a provision in your divorce decree to assign quality time with the other spouse.

A pet is considered part of the marital estate 

There are precious few instances in which a pet would not be considered part of the marital estate and instead be considered the property of one spouse or the other. One such case would involve a pet that was purchased with inheritance. Even in those cases, the spouse would have to argue the matter before the court. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the best interests of the pet would not be considered. The pet would likely stay with whichever spouse gets the home.

That doesn’t mean, however, that a couple couldn’t make an agreement on their own as to how the pet situation is handled. Divorce decrees can contain any number of provisions and if the couple wants to treat their family pet as a member of the family, they can do so by drafting an agreement.

It’s true that divorces can be hard on children. They can also be hard on pets who don’t understand why the couple is now living separately. While the courts won’t hear arguments on the best interests of the pets, the couple can draft a visitation agreement that does reflect the best interests of the pet. They must, however, reach an accord on the matter. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. However, both pet parents must agree on the final provisions of the agreement. If the court is forced to render a decision, the pet will be treated as personal property.

Talk to a Philadelphia Divorce Attorney Today 

The Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane represent the interests of divorcing spouses in Philadelphia. Call our Philadelphia family lawyers today with any questions or concerns you might have related to your divorce and we can begin discussing your interests immediately.

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