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What Happens to Pets in a Divorce?

By Iafrate & Salassa

A dog and cat laying together on the floor, for help with who will have custody of your pets with your divorce meet with Divorce Attorney in Michigan.

There are many issues that will arise during any divorce case. Child custody, child support, and alimony are just a few. These are also the issues that many people first think of when it comes to divorce. One issue that is often overlooked though are the family pets. During the marriage, both spouses likely developed a strong emotional bond with the dog, cat, or other pets. As such, each spouse wants to keep the pet in the divorce. So, how is this issue sorted out? 

Pets as Property

In Michigan, pets are treated just like other property including the marital home and other assets. Due to this, they are subject to the same property division rules as any other marital property. Often, a monetary negotiation will take place. The spouses will agree that one spouse keeps the pet while another pays cash or offers to give up other property in the settlement agreement. 

When cash is offered in exchange for a pet or other property is given up, the value can be no greater than the value of the animal. This is the amount it would cost for the same breed of the same animal if the pet needed to be replaced. Of course, in many cases, one spouse is so attached to the animal that they offer more money or property to keep the pet. This sometimes works greatly to the advantage of the spouse that will not keep the pet. 

Other Arrangements

There are cases when the spouses cannot agree to exchange the family pet for cash or other property. In these instances, the couple often agrees to treat the pet as they would children in the divorce. They create a visitation schedule that allows each spouse to spend some time with the pet every week or every month. 

It is important to write out a comprehensive plan when spouses want to share a pet in this manner. It typically requires each spouse to contribute to vet bills and other expenses associated with the pet. Often, each spouse will even agree to give the other the right of first refusal. This means that when one spouse goes out of town or cannot take care of the pet, they will ask the other spouse if they want to care for the pet before taking them to a kennel or making other arrangements. 

Need Help with Your Divorce? Call Our Michigan Divorce Attorneys

While there are some very common terms that must be agreed on in divorce, every case is unique and presents its own issues. When a couple owned a pet together, arrangements for that pet must also be dealt with during divorce proceedings. If you need a divorce attorney in Michigan that can handle all the details of your divorce, call Iafrate & Salassa, PC. We will advise on all the specific aspects of your case, and help you get the best settlement possible. If you are thinking about divorce, call us or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation. 

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