For many of us, pets are an important part of the family. In an Arizona divorce court they are viewed as property, much the same as your home or other assets. For many couples, this is a tough pill to swallow; their pets are as important to the family as the people. They often ask us who gets custody of the pets in a divorce.

Pets are considered property.

While there are more cases happening to establish that pets hold a different, more significant place, in the family, they are still considered property and are treated as such in a divorce proceeding. The court considers the following:

• Who owned the pet prior to the marriage? If neither party did, then consider Fido or Fifi the same as the furniture, up for grabs.

• Who cared for the pet during the relationship? The spouse who took care of the pet more might be in favor of getting custody.

• What was the agreement between parties at the time of separation? The court might just uphold what the parties already agreed to before they went to court.

• Is it a high value pet? Show and stud animals are often considered high value assets and carefully reviewed by the courts.

By law a pet is considered property but when there are children involved, the lines can get blurred. A judge may well decide the pet stays with the children and their primary parent even if the other spouse may have otherwise gotten custody.

For couples without children, consider working out the custody of a pet with your spouse. Often couples have agreements similar to that of people with children – one week with mom and the next with dad – so that both parties can still have time with the pet.

While pets are an important part of our lives, they are still considered property during a divorce proceeding. For more information about this and other family law matters, please contact our team today.