Where or Where is that Puppy in the Window: An Alabama Divorce Guide to Pets & Divorce

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Jun 03, 2016 | 0 Comments

What Happens to Pets in an Alabama Divorce?

If you count your pets among your family members, you may be understandably worried about what will happen to them in your divorce. As a Birmingham Divorce Lawyer I've seen it all, and the custody of your pet can be as contentious as custody of child in some instances. Even if you have two furry or four-legged family members, you may not wish to separate your pets or to give up “custody” of one of your animals. If you're worried about losing a pet in a divorce, call an Alabama divorce lawyer right away.

How Courts Handle Pets in Divorce

According to a Forbes article, 62 percent of American households include at least one pet. People develop close bonds with their pets, and many people treat their dogs like children. When spouses decide to separate, deciding what happens to their beloved companions can be a difficult and emotional prospect. The idea of losing a dog or other type of pet in a divorce can be devastating. When one or both spouses breed animals as a business, what happens to pets in a divorce can become an even larger issue.

Like most states, the law in Alabama treats pets as personal property in a divorce. This means courts in Alabama don't create custody agreements for pets like they do for minor children.

Just because the courts in Alabama won't use a custody agreement for a pet does not mean the spouses can't work out their own agreement. If you and your spouse can agree to divide “custody” of your pet, you can certainly incorporate this provision in your marital property agreement. By putting it in writing, you can make the provisions surrounding your pet legally binding and enforceable.

What Happens When Your Breed Your Pets for Profit?

If you breed your animals for a profit, the court will likely look closely at the value of the animals, which spouse is primarily involved in the breeding program, and whether it makes sense for one person to continue the breeding business. In some cases, such as when both spouses are involved in breeding the parties' pets, it is necessary for the court to order the breeding business divided, just as it would order any family business divided in a divorce.

Proving You Should Get the Pet in Your Divorce

If you and your spouse can't agree on which person should take the pet, you may need to provide evidence that shows you have a greater attachment to the pet than your soon-to-be ex. As with any sort of personal property in a divorce, it's usually impossible to divide the property in two pieces. When you can't divide something, the court must decide which person should get it.

To increase your chances of being awarded the pet in your divorce, you can gather evidence that shows you are the pet's primary caregiver. Consider talking to your veterinarian, who may be willing to submit an affidavit regarding your pet's medical treatment and whether you are typically the person who brings the pet to vet appointments. You can also consider submitting photos of you and your pet together, or even asking neighbors or family members to provide testimony regarding the time you spend with your pet. For example, if you walk your dog down your residential street every morning and evening, your neighbors may be willing to give testimony backing up your routine.

Ready to Speak to an Alabama Divorce Lawyer? Call Today

You love your pet. Work with an Alabama divorce attorney who can help you keep your furry family member in your family. Call (866) 831-5292 to speak to a lawyer about your case today. You can also reach us by email or through our online contact form.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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