In Virginia, a pet is considered personal property. Therefore, unlike child custody which may be shared, a pet will be awarded to one spouse if the court must get involved and make the decision for you.
What the Court Considers When Deciding Pet Custody
If you and your soon to be ex-spouse can’t decide who should have the pet after the divorce, the court will decide. Often the court will consider factors, such as:
- Who is home more often
- Who the pet is most attached to
- Who brings the pet to the vet or groomer
- Who feeds, walks, and plays with the pet
- Who owned the pet prior to marriage (if applicable)
The court may also consider whether one spouse neglected or abused the pet.
Should Pets Be Personal Property?
Because both spouses may share in the care of a pet, some states are considering other ways to assign pet ownership after a divorce and may no longer treat pets as personal property. However, this is not yet the case in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Pets are personal property, and you should be prepared to fight for ownership of your pet if you want the pet to live with you after a divorce.
Talk to Your Divorce Lawyer About Pet Ownership
If keeping your pet is a priority for you, it is important to let your lawyer know. He can work hard to help you keep your pet, as well as help you divide the rest of your property fairly. Contact us today via this website or by phone to learn more.