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Who Keeps the Pet when Divorcing?

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For many individuals, making sure they get to keep their pets is a top priority during a divorce. Our experienced family lawyers in Dayton can help you learn more.

Ohio Law Treats Pets Like Personal Property

No matter how much our pets may feel like family, they are still considered personal property under Ohio law. Under Ohio law, pets are subject to equitable distribution, just like any other assets you and your spouse shared during the course of your marriage.

Your Prenuptial Agreement

If you and your spouse (or fiancé) signed a prenuptial agreement, you would want your attorney to review your agreement to see what it says about pet ownership in a divorce. The so-called “pet prenup” has been on the rise, and your prenuptial agreement may state what will happen to your pets in the case of a divorce.

However, before putting too much stock in your prenuptial agreement, you should also have your lawyer examine the agreement to make sure that it is likely to hold up in court. Several issues can render a prenuptial agreement unenforceable. If you or your spouse have a basis for challenging the validity of your agreement, this is the first matter you will need to resolve.

Turning to the Court for a Resolution

Nevertheless, if you and your spouse can’t come to terms amicably, you might need to go to the divorce court for a solution. When determining which spouse should get to keep a family pet in a divorce, the Ohio courts weigh factors like: 

  • Which spouse took most of the responsibility for the pet’s daily needs?
  • Which spouse bought the food for the animal?
  • Which spouse took the pet to the vet?
  • After the divorce, will both spouses have the financial means to provide for the pet’s needs?
  • Has either spouse hurt or neglected the pet previously?
  • Has one spouse bonded with the animal more than the other has?
  • What kind of living conditions will each spouse be able to give the animal following the divorce?

As with child custody and other matters during your divorce, planning can often help put you in a more suitable position to fight for the rights you desire when it comes to pet ownership. The experienced lawyers at The VanNoy Firm can help you learn more.

Pets Will Either Be Classified as Separate or Marital Property

Considering pets are deemed property under Ohio law, a divorce court will first need to resolve whether the pet should be categorized as one spouse’s separate property or as marital property. If a pet is separate property, meaning it was adopted or purchased before the marriage date, then the spouse for whom the pet is separate property will get to hang on to the pet following the divorce. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Dayton, OH

If you want to talk with a lawyer about what you can do to help ensure you keep your pet after your divorce, contact The VanNoy Firm today for a confidential consultation. One of our lawyers will be glad to talk with you as soon as possible.



About The Author

Anthony S. VanNoy

Trial Attorney

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