Who Gets the Pets in a Divorce in Arizona?

who gets the pets in a divorceThere are many important considerations to go through in the event of a divorce. You will be separating from a person that you shared your life with. As a result, certain aspects of continuing life without each other could be quite challenging.

Custody over the pets isn’t spoken of that often but the issue is incredibly important for individuals who are cat or dog lovers. A pet is a member of your family and if you and your ex both want to keep the cat or the pup, things could get ugly.

Who Gets Custody of the Family Pet in an Arizona Divorce?

As per Arizona law, pets are considered community property – they belong to both of the individuals married to each other.

Because pets are considered property, custody or visitation rights cannot be awarded in court. The monetary value of the pet is also negligible and as harsh as this may seem, deciding whether you or your ex is keeping a cat or a dog isn’t the main priority of the court.

The best thing to do is talk to your ex about keeping the pet. If you are separating on amicable terms, you will make the decision that is best for everyone involved. In some instances, however, reaching an agreement will be impossible. This is when you’ll have to seek legal assistance.

Prepare to Lead the Pet Custody Battle

If you were the sole owner of a pet before you got married, the pet is considered your separate property. This is the best case scenario because it will enable you to keep the pet without having to lead a legal battle.

Whenever a spouse contributes to food or veterinary bills, however, it will become much more difficult to establish a pet as your own “separate property.” Comingling would have occurred, meaning that your spouse would be capable of demanding the pet because they invested a certain amount in the care.

To get custody of the pet, you will have to prepare the necessary paperwork. Some of the important documents you will need to present the court with include:

  • Veterinary bills and receipts showing who paid for these services
  • Pet store receipts and bills
  • Information from witnesses about who was the one taking the most care of the pet
  • Photograph and video evidence establishing your relationship with a cat or a dog and the fact that you were the primary caregiver

As you can see, the situation can be incredibly difficult to settle. You view your pet as a child. The court views the pet as property. The emotional stress of going through the process and the fact you could potentially lose a beloved pet may eventually become too much to bare. Thus, you will need to keep emotions out of the process as much as possible. Think rationally and get a legal professional involved if you want the best outcome.

Consider a Pet Custody Agreement

There are instances in which neither former spouse is 100 percent capable of taking care of a family pet.

If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, consider signing a pet custody agreement with your ex.

The pet custody agreement determines how responsibilities about pet care are going to be shared between two individuals.

The abandonment of pets in the aftermath of a divorce does occur. Hence, courts across the US have been forced to begin considering the wellbeing of animals who may suffer because of a legal separation. A pet custody agreement establishes clear guidelines and some responsibility, making it 100 percent legally binding for the two former spouses to take good care of the family pet.  Click here for information on proving separate property in divorce in Arizona.