Your pet is part of your family. It provides joy, comfort and companionship to your entire family.
However, choosing who gets the family pet in a divorce gets complicated, especially if you have children. Therefore, Georgia has a process for determining who gets the family pet.
Georgia is an equitable distribution state. Therefore, the courts will divide your assets based on equity, but not always equality. The courts treat your pet like an asset.
Types of property
Every divorce has separate and marital property. Any property you had before you got married is separate. This means that the courts cannot divide and distribute it. However, anything you purchased during your marriage is separate property. This includes your home, retirement accounts, artwork and even the family pet.
The courts typically give one partner custody of the family pet. They weigh who primarily takes care of and has the closest relationship with the pet. Time with the family dog and abuse or neglect are aspects of the custody case. The judge will weigh witness testimony, photos and other evidence as well as the original purchase details. Custody of the children may also be a factor due to the emotional impact losing the pet may have on the children.
Joint custody is not typically an option, due to the strife that may occur. However, some judges have awarded joint custody.
If your pet is especially valuable and you receive custody, the judge may require you to pay half of the value of the pet to your former spouse.
To get the best outcome, work with your spouse to create a custody agreement, and make sure you can provide a good, loving home for your pet.