How a family’s pets can quickly complicate a divorce

On Behalf of | May 26, 2023 | Divorce

Divorces tend to become messy when people let their feelings determine what actions they take. Few elements are more emotional for those preparing for divorce than the future relationships they will have with members of their family.

For those with children, concerns about custody will often dominate divorce negotiations. Many families also have to address what will happen with a pet. Dogs, cats and other companion animals may be beloved by all the members of the family, and they can therefore, end up becoming a sticking point during Indiana divorce negations.

The courts don’t view pets as family members

Although a pet may feel like family and have emotional value to adults and children alike, they do not have the same rights as human family members in the Indiana family courts. A family law judge in Indiana hearing a contested case involving a pet will treat the animal as marital property rather than a member of the family. An animal will have a financial value and will be part of the pool of marital assets. A judge will award custody of the animal to one spouse or the other. They will not waste time and resources putting together a shared custody arrangement for a pet.

Families can make their own solutions

The love for a pet may inspire people to compromise even when they have a hard time agreeing with their spouse about anything. People who understand that a litigated divorce may result in them never seeing their pet again might agree to settle with their spouse to keep their case out of court so that they can implement a shared pet custody arrangement. Although a judge won’t establish such orders for a family, they can approve settlement agreements that include pet-sharing terms. There are many ways to work out a shared pet custody arrangement, and the best terms will differ based on people’s employment, their family circumstances and the needs of the pet.

Understanding that compromise is often necessary in divorces involving a pet can help people employ thoughtful approaches to get the results they need from their divorce process.

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