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What happens to the family pet when it comes to divorce?

It is estimated that 62 percent of families in the country have one or more pets. With the nation’s divorce rate hovering at around 50 percent, it is easy to see how the divorce process can affect pet ownership.

Arranging a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that lays out what will happen to a pet in the event of a divorce may be one way to address the situation before the marriage comes to an end. For couples that do not have such an agreement, other considerations may need to be made. For example, demonstrating who took care of the pet during the marriage may be one reason for that party to keep the pet after a divorce. How a person’s lifestyle will affect the pet after a divorce may also be something to keep in mind. And, if the animal was the pet of only one spouse or the other before their marriage, it may be best in some circumstances for that party to retain pet ownership.

Legally, pets are considered to be property and are subject to any state rules regarding the property division process. For example, Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state. This means that property is divided based on fairness, which may or may not mean an even 50/50 split. Unfortunately, some spouses will try to use pet ownership to gain an unfair advantage in the property division process, especially if they know their soon-to-be ex-spouse is emotionally attached to the pet.

As this shows, there are many expected and unexpected challenges when it comes to a divorce. Pet lovers may have a lot on their mind, including the best interests of their furry friends. Fortunately, there are ways to arrive at a solution when it comes to a beloved pet that takes the needs of everyone involved into account.