If you and your ex adopted a pet together during your marriage, your companion animal may be a source of worry when you start thinking about divorce. People often have strong emotional attachments to their pets and may hate the idea of saying goodbye to a cat or dog that has lived with them for years.
Can you ask the North Carolina family court to establish a pet custody order that gives you access to your animal during a divorce?
North Carolina considers animals property
Your pet is like a member of your family in an emotional sense, but in a legal sense, they belong to you. Companion animals are assets worth a fixed amount of money when it comes to a North Carolina divorce. There will not be custody proceedings related to an animal, but there could be property division proceedings that determine the animal’s future residence.
If one of you owned the animal prior to marriage, the pet may remain their separate property in the event of a divorce. If you acquired it during the marriage, either spouse could become the owner. A judge will determine how much the animal is worth and then decide who will keep it.
If you and your ex have strong attachments to the animal, you can potentially make your own shared custody arrangements outside of court. You simply cannot ask a family law judge to create and enforce a pet custody arrangement.
Learning more about the laws that apply in North Carolina divorces can help you decide how to handle your biggest concerns, like the living arrangements for your pet.