According to state law, pets are considered property in the context of divorce and are subject to equitable distribution. Whoever paid for the pet is going to retain ownership in the end. If the pet is considered community property, the court would have to make a decision on its ownership based on what’s fair. Pets have a lot of emotional value, so determining pet custody during an Alpharetta divorce can become complicated and contentious.
When deciding how to divide a pet among divorcing spouses, the courts must consider things like the relationship between each party and the pet, who cared for it, who paid for it, whether it is some sort of companion or disability support animal. The species of the pet is also important factor. For example, couples arguing over the distribution of property may decide that one party gets to keep the horse barn, then the species of the horse may play a major role as opposed to a dog that can go anywhere.
If a divorcing couple has a two-pet household, equitable distribution doesn’t necessarily mean that one party is going to get one pet, and the other party will get the other pet. Both pets may need to stay together and go to the same home. It depends on whatever is deemed fair by the judge. The problem with determining pet custody during an Alpharetta divorce is that it’s not well defined and there isn’t a well-established law on who gets to keep the pets, so boils down to arguing over property as opposed to children.
If a pet serves as an emotional support animal, either party could make an equitable argument that the pet should be the property of the person for whom it plays a significant emotional support role. Any kind of documentation or evidence that shows the significant emotional support role that the pet plays is going to be beneficial. For example, a psychologist’s or vet’s note can show the meaningful relationship between the pet and the person.
Whether an animal is considered an asset versus a liability would depend on the pet and the circumstances. A dog is usually considered an asset in most cases, but a horse or a horse farm may be a liability because of its practical use. In general, however, pets are usually considered assets as opposed liabilities.
The argument against classifying pets as property has to do with the fact that they cannot be replaced like other household items. Pets serve a higher purpose than other types of property. While some people form very strong emotional attachments to certain keepsakes, a pet is inherently different.
If you have found yourself in a custody battle over your beloved pets, you can discuss your concerns with our team. We understand the emotional stock that’s at stake and can help you determine pet custody during an Alpharetta divorce. Call our intake team today to learn more about the complicated aspect of property law.