You may not agree with your spouse about much anymore, but both of you have one thing in common still. You agree that your rescued beagle mix is the best dog who has ever lived. You can still bond over your love of the animal you share. For better and for worse, that devotion to your canine companion is probably not enough to keep your relationship from floundering if you’re struggling with fundamental differences or other significant challenges.
You recognize that it may be time to file for divorce, but you also worry about what the end of your marriage will mean for your relationship with your beloved pet. Can you share custody of a companion animal after a Georgia divorce?
Spouses can mutually agree to set any terms they desire
When spouses negotiate their own divorce settlements, they can set their own rules. They can be the ones to decide if one spouse should keep the pet or both of them should share it.
If you reach a settlement, you can ask the courts to approve an uncontested divorce with truly unique terms. Unfortunately, not every divorcing couple is able to reach amicable agreements about emotional issues, like who keeps a pet.
What happens if you have to go to court?
A Georgia family law judge has to consider numerous factors when dividing marital property. Equitable distribution laws require that they try to handle all debts and property in a way that will be fair for everyone involved.
A pet, unfortunately, only has a financial value under the current law in Georgia. A judge can approve a settlement that includes shared custody, but they are unlikely to award shared custody in the event of a dispute. You can avoid a property division battle over your pet if you can show that your pet was separate property because you owned them before you got married.
Those who take over caring for a pet after a family member dies could also treat that pet as an inheritance and potentially claim it as separate property. Otherwise, your companion animal will likely be treated as part of the marital estate, and the judge will decide who they think should keep them.
It can be very difficult to address emotionally loaded topics, like the possession of your beloved pet, in the early stages of divorce. Learning more about George’s marital property laws and other divorce statutes will help those thinking about their future after marriage make informed decisions.