Your pet is a member of your family and, for many, is as significant as a child. If you go through a divorce, your child will have a custody agreement — but what happens to Fido?
In Virginia, pets are considered property during a divorce, which may be sad for many to hear. Because pets are considered property, more factors then come into play, determined by when the pet entered the marriage and who was the initial owner at the time.
Separate Property vs. Marital Property
Identifying the initial owner of your pet is essential when determining who gets ownership of a pet in a divorce. If you solely owned your pet before the marriage and then brought the pet to your marriage, your pet is considered separate property, just like any other assets in your life.
However, if you adopted your pet during your marriage, your pet is considered marital property, similar to any houses purchased together, debt accrued, or other assets obtained during the marriage. Your pet will be regarded as an asset during the equitable division of property and placed with only one party after the divorce. Since pets are considered property, they cannot have shared custody the same way a child could.
What If My Pet Is Considered Marital Property?
If your pet is considered marital property and you want to keep your pet after your divorce, you should first understand that you will need to form an agreement with your spouse regarding the ownership of your pet. This will often be done as other assets are divided, as Virginia uses the equitable division of property model during divorces. If needed, mediation can help guide you and your spouse as the two of you determine who will take care of the pet following your divorce. Our skilled divorce attorneys are here to help with any of your needs during this time.
Do you have questions about your pet in your divorce? Call our Manassas divorce lawyers today at (703) 215-1880.