pets with their owners

When dissolving your marriage, you and your former partner will have to reach a mutual agreement on critical issues about the split. These issues include child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. Property division is one of the most contentious issues couples face when divorcing. If couples fail to reach a mutual agreement on the terms that will apply to the termination of their marriage, the court will consider several factors to determine a reasonable division of marital assets. In recent years, divorces have increasingly included disputes over who gets to keep the family pet. In some states, there are pet custody laws that protect the pet’s best interests in a divorce similar to how courts protect a child’s best interests when determining child custody orders. However, other states consider companion animals as personal property like a couch or table. Despite you considering your companion animal as a beloved family member, the court often does not agree. Because companion animals are seen as personal property in some cases they can be subject to equitable distribution during property division. Keep reading to learn who gets to keep the pet in a New Jersey divorce and discover how our determined Monmouth County Division of Assets Attorneys can help you through this intricate process.

Is my pet subject to equitable distribution in a New Jersey divorce?

Many married couples treat their pets like children. As beloved family members, couples often wonder who will get to keep the companion animal. The answer ultimately depends on when the pet was acquired. If you bought the pet together during the marriage, the companion animal will be considered marital property. If the companion animal was acquired by one spouse outside of the marriage, the pet is considered separate property. Separate property is not subject to equitable distribution. If the pet was acquired outside of the marriage, the spouse that purchased the companion animal will get to keep the pet after the divorce. The other spouse must part ways with the animal forever as there are no legal implications requiring joint custody or visitation rights.

Technically, New Jersey does not enforce pet custody laws. Therefore, the courts consider companion animals personal property. However, in some cases, the court will take into account whether any children have strong emotional attachments to the pet. Nevertheless, if you want to keep your pet after a divorce, it is critical to try to reach a mutual agreement with your former spouse outside of court.

If you do not want to lose custody of your pet, you need one of our trusted and skilled attorneys on your side. Our firm is prepared to work tirelessly to help protect your hard-earned assets.