As you are going through negotiations for your divorce agreement, you are likely laser focused on how your child custody arrangement will be settled. However, you must not forget that you and your former spouse will also need to decide who gets to keep your family pet. Follow along to find out who gets the pet after a divorce is finalized and how a proficient Bergen County divorce attorney at McNerney & McAuliffe can help you in reaching a fair and just settlement.
Who gets to keep the pet after my divorce is finalized?
A few states have adopted pet custody laws. These laws are treated similarly to child custody laws, in which the family court rules on a custody arrangement that is in the best interest of your pet. Pet custody laws essentially show that the family court views your pet as one of your family members, much like you do. Unfortunately, the state of New Jersey has not yet recognized this law.
Instead, the New Jersey family court will view your pet as a piece of personal property. With this, it will divide the ownership of your pet between you and your former spouse in a way that is equitable and just. In other words, your pet will be subject to the equitable distribution process.
Due to these circumstances, it is highly recommended that you and your former spouse establish a pet custody agreement.
Why should I have a pet custody agreement?
First of all, a pet custody agreement functions much like a prenuptial agreement. This is so you and your former spouse can establish who has the rights to your pet in the event of a divorce.
If you do not establish this agreement, then you will have to make a strong argument in court for why you should have the rights to your pet over your former spouse. More specifically, you may have to prove the following as true:
- You may have to prove that you got the pet before you and your former spouse got married.
- You may have to prove that you are the one to take care of the pet.
- You may have to prove that you are the one to financially support the pet.
- If you were granted sole physical custody over your child, you may have to prove that your child is attached to the pet.
- If your former spouse is moving to an apartment, you may have to prove that their new residence does not allow pets.
You will want to establish your pet custody agreement before you and your former spouse go your separate ways. So you must not hesitate in contacting a talented Bergen County family law attorney today. We are ready and willing to take on your case.