Going through a divorce is hard enough, but for some people, divorce also means determine who is going to keep a beloved pet. In many families, a pet is more than just a dog, cat or other animal that shares the space. They’re family members, too.
Unfortunately, Georgia still treats pets as property, and they are subject to the same property division guidelines as other assets. That means that the wellbeing of the pet won’t necessarily be under consideration, though it should be.
What can you do if you and your spouse both want your pet following your divorce?
Reasonable people should sit down to talk to each other about what would be in the pet’s best interests. For example, if you do not have a large enough home or the money to care for a pet following the divorce, then it’s not reasonable to ask to keep the pet. Some people will come up with their own arrangements, such as allowing for visitation or allowing the pet to choose who it will go with.
If you have children, it may be a good idea to consider keeping the pet with them when they go between homes. If that won’t work, keeping the pet in the children’s primary residence might be a good plan. If one of your children is allergic to a pet, then separating them from the pet could also be an option by placing the pet on an alternating custody schedule or rehoming it completely.
Although the state only recognizes pets as property, you and your spouse can choose differently. If you cannot come up with a reasonable solution, however, then you may find that a judge rules based on your financial situation and will determine the pet’s owner by looking at equitable distribution rules.
You can negotiate for your pet’s well-being
It’s possible to negotiate to keep your pet or to come up with a plan that is in your pet’s best interests. These family members may be treated differently in divorce, but you can still take steps to protect them and offer them the best life in the future.