Who Keeps the Dog in a Divorce?

DogWho Keeps the Dog in a Divorce?

Your pets are part of your family. Often, couples have pets before they have children, and sometimes they have pets instead of kids. Most households own some type of pet. In fact, pet ownership has increased significantly over the last 30 years. As of 2023, about 66% of households in the United States are home to a pet. That equates to about almost 90 million homes. When couples divorce, they need to decide which one will keep the family pet.


Pets are Property

While you may feel as though your dog or cat is a member of the family, in the eyes of the law, pets are considered property. As such, they are included in a couple’s property and may be divided as part of the property settlement. Unlike children, parties will not be awarded custody of or visitation with a pet. Typically, if you purchased the pet during the marriage, the owners must decide where the pet will reside.


Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: ” Is there some property that the judge cannot divide?”


Pet Ownership

Just like other property, the law may help to determine which party owns the pet. Did one of you own the pet prior to getting married? If one party purchased the pet before you were married, it is most likely not part of your marital property. Thus, the party who owned the pet prior to marriage is the one who will keep ownership in a divorce. If the pet was purchased during the marriage, it is part of your marital property and needs to be considered as such.



Create an Agreement

The easiest and simplest way to resolve pet ownership in a divorce is through an agreement. Couples can work together to make a decision regarding where the pet will reside. It is in your best interest to come to a mutual arrangement rather than allow the courts to make the decision. In fact, courts don’t typically get involved in these types of decisions. In cases where couples cannot come to a settlement agreement, the court may request mediation to allow the parties to resolve the matter on their own.


Considerations About Pet Ownership

Although both parties may feel they should own the pet, only one of you will be able to keep the dog or cat. There are some things you will want to think about when you consider which person will keep the animal. Does the animal have a special bond with one of you? Which of you will be able to spend more time with the pet? Which is better able to care for the dog or cat? If you have children, you will want to think about their attachment to the pet and ensure that the pet stays in the household where the children reside on a primary basis. Keep in mind that you will want what is best for your children as well as your pet. While couples may decide to share a pet, this may not always be the best solution for you or the animal.


Couples must take time to try to resolve many settlement issues, and pet ownership is just one of them. A knowledgeable divorce attorney will assist you through the entire divorce process and will help you with your settlement arrangements. Call us today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704)370-2828 for a consultation.








The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.


What Is A Divorce Settlement Agreement? (2024 Guide) – Forbes Advisor

Pet Ownership Statistics and Facts in 2024 – Forbes Advisor


Image Credit:



See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel



See Our Related Blog Posts:

Divorce Battles Over Dogs


Experts Say Pet Custody Battles On The Rise

Contact Information