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Michigan Family Law Blog

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

What Happens With the Pets In a Divorce?

There are many very serious issues that one may face in a divorce that may have a significant impact on their family and finances.  However, there are also many other details that one must address in a divorce matter that range from the mundane to the more important.  One issue that often comes up is what to do with the pet dog or cat.

Pets are often beloved family members in the modern American home and there are several ways that one may handle the situation.  Technically, pets are considered property and have no rights themselves unlike children for whom the court must make an in-depth analysis about what is in the child's best interests if the parents disagree.  That means if it were to go to a trial, the judge would simply award the animal to one spouse or the other.

However, most family law cases are handled through mediation and negotiation.  So in most cases a more nuanced approach may be taken.  Sometimes, the parties will work out a vitiation type schedule where one party can have scheduled time with the pet just like with children.  In other cases a pet may go back and forth between the parties' home on the weekends so that the children don't have to be separate from the animal over their weekends.  It may be difficult for one party to take the animal because of living arrangements but the other party will agree to allow some time with the pet without taking the animal overnight.  Finally, one party may simply agree that the other party should get the pet and handle all the responsibility associated with ownership.

This may seem silly to some but to others the relationship with a pet or the children with the pet can be very important.  When handling divorce cases one's attorney should take the time to listen to the client to determine what details are important to the client.  Divorce lawyers have experience with all of the issues in these cases and typically can offer good, tested solutions to the issues. 

Handling a divorce on one's own is a risky proposition at best and in many cases, one has to spend more money to have an attorney fix the problem or mistake later (if they even can fix it later) than they would have spent if they just hired the attorney in the first place.  Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Our Michigan divorce attorneys can help you navigate through the divorce process and protect your rights.


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