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Sep 15 2021

Determining Who Keeps the Pets in a Divorce

Our pets offer solace, companionship, and love, and the thought of losing your beloved pet or pets in your divorce can be devastating. It’s important to know, however, that you have rights that relate to your pets, and you can go after terms that uphold these rights. Discuss your pet-related divorce concerns with an experienced Minneapolis divorce attorney today.

Pets Are Considered Property in the State of Minnesota

Unlike some other states that have adopted a gentler approach, Minnesota law classifies your pets as property, which means that, if the decision comes down to the court, it will proceed in exactly the same way as if the pet were any other form of property that you own (for the most part). In Minnesota, the only way your family pet will automatically go to you is if the animal is your separate property, which means that one of the following must apply:

  • You brought the pet into the marriage with you.
  • You inherited the pet in your name only.
  • The pet was given to you as a gift in your name only.
  • You purchased the pet with your own separate money (that falls into one of the above classifications). 

Outside of these circumstances, the pet will very likely be considered marital property, and you’ll need to either come to an agreement about post-divorce ownership with your divorcing spouse, or the court will do so for you. 

The Court’s Intervention

If the court is required to make the decision about who will be keeping the pet or pets in question upon your divorce, it will be charged with doing so in a very impersonal way – as if your pet were an asset you can put a value on. This, of course, has nothing to do with the actual value we place on our beloved pets, and it can make the process that much more painful. It’s important to recognize, however, that the judge presiding over your case will use common sense in his or her decision-making process. 

If you have a family dog that you alone have cared for and walked twice a day for the last five years, for example, the judge is unlikely to send it off with your ex. Further, if your children are quite attached to the animal, the judge may determine that staying with the primary custodial parent is the best decision all around. A pet can offer just the solace you’re looking for post-divorce, and it’s not unreasonable to advocate for your rights as a loving pet owner. 

Consult with an Experienced Minneapolis Divorce Attorney Today

If you’re facing a divorce, you’re going through a difficult transition, and the thought of losing your beloved pet can make the matter that much more challenging. The thoughtful Minneapolis divorce attorneys at Atticus Family Law recognize the pain associated with losing a pet to divorce and have the experience, drive, and strength of character to help. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us today.   

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