Pets more than just marital property in a divorce

Most Massachusetts pet owners would be horrified if their precious furry friends were referred to as property, akin to a chair or table. Many couples see their dogs, cats and other pets as true family members; however, in a court of law, pets are seen as marital property during a divorce. This is a difficult realization for many couples attempting to decide what happens to their pets when their relationship ends.

It’s the incredible attachment people have to their animals that is making more people fight over them once they decide to end their relationship in divorce. Those watching current trends in divorce have seen an increase in couples attempting to receive joint custody of their pets. Many couples care for their pets as if they were children and when their relationship ends decisions must be made as to the continued care of their pets.

Regardless of whether the discussion is related to pets, children, monetary assets or property, the end of a relationship can bring on heated battles in how these are divided and shared. Many couples attempt to deal with this alone, which can lead to negative feelings and make the aftermath of a divorce bitter. Some couples decide on alternative dispute resolution techniques in order to address property division.

Massachusetts couples considering divorce or currently going through the dissolution of a marriage may have difficult decisions to make in regards to the distribution of marital property, including pets, as they go through the process of ending their relationship. This does not have to be a time of bitter arguments. Should a couple be unable to come to a decision in the case of custody of beloved pets, or any other marital property, a court may have to decide for them.

Source:, “Pets caught in middle of divorces trending in Jacksonville,” Deanna Bettineschi, July 24, 2013

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