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Who gets the family pet in a Georgia divorce?

In many households, pets become family members. Yours is likely no exception, and it may include a dog, cat or other animal that you, your spouse and your children have developed strong bonds with. Yet, you and your spouse might have decided to get divorced. If you are both attached to your pet, you will likely have difficulty deciding who it will live with afterward. By understanding how Georgia treats pets in divorce cases, you can make sure yours ends up where it will receive the stability and care it needs.

Georgia treats pets as property

While several states have pet custody laws in place, Georgia is not among these. Rather, the state treats pets as property, and you and your spouse will determine its ownership in a similar manner to how you will divide your other assets. There are a few special factors, though, that you may want to consider when deciding who gets your pet. No matter how attached both of you are to it, you must keep in mind:

  • The type of pet you have and its ability to adapt to change
  • Whether you or your spouse are responsible for taking care of your pet’s needs
  • Whether you or your spouse brought the pet into your marriage
  • Whether you or your spouse pay for your pet’s expenses
  • Whether you or your spouse will be better able to afford to take care of your pet

If you and your spouse have children, you will also want to consider which of you will receive primary physical custody of them. If your children have a strong bond with your pet, you will want to make sure your pet ends up in the same household that they spend most of their time in.

Determining the ownership of your pet may be one of the most difficult parts of your divorce, due to your emotional bond with it. Yet, with the help of an attorney, you can work out an arrangement that reflects its best interests.