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How Are Pets Counted in Divorce?

As an attorney practicing divorce law in Northern Kentucky for more than 19 years, there are a number of issues which are nominal in the eyes of the law but may be the most important piece of resolving a divorce.  The law considers animals as chattel.  Chattel is defined as 1. personal possession; 2. something that a person owns other than land or buildings.  As such, an animal is no different than your couch, tv or gas grill.  Of course, some pets do have a value if they are pure bred, however their actual value to the parties may be much greater than their economic value. The court will approve an agreement which allows for time sharing of a pet.  Many practitioners have drafted agreements which account for division of time, responsibilities, costs and the like which are very similar to child custody agreements.  This may be frowned upon by the legal community, however it is often the only way for divorcing couples to move forward. A dog or cat may also go back and forth between the parties' households together with the children.  I was involved in a case such as this where the dog went with the children for a number of years.  Unfortunately, no consideration was given to what would happen to the family pet after the children were no longer minors.  The dog lived to be over 17 years of age, and the parties returned to court to fight over permanent custody. In that matter, one party argued that the dog belonged to the children and the other argued the best interest of the dog.  The court made the ruling based on where the dog was physically locate don the date the Separation Agreement was signed, since the agreement called for each to keep any and all personal property in their possession as of that date. If you have questions about your divorce, consult with an attorney.  In Northern Kentucky call Michael Bouldin at 859-581-6453 or email at [email protected] .  Call 581-MIKE.

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