Pet ownership is commonplace, and they are considered valued family members. Just like humans, pets experience anxiety and stress during divorce. They might act differently than usual; examples include changes in their eating and sleeping habits. Some even act aggressively or become withdrawn.
Even though people feel their pets are just like children, our companions are typically categorized as personal property, and pet custody laws are not always clear. If you legally owned the pet before marriage, the court will likely rule that you are the owner after the divorce.
If the pet was obtained during the marriage, it might fall under Maryland’s equitable distribution law. The court will analyze the facts and circumstances to allocate the divorcing couple’s property fairly, including any pets. They will look at many factors, including but not limited to:
- If the pet was brought into the marriage by one spouse who already owned it.
- If the pet was acquired by the couple when married.
- Who paid for the pet’s care.
- Who took care of the pet.
- If one parent has custody of the children, keeping the pet may be in the children’s best interest.
- Service animals typically remain with the person who needs their help.
Are There Other Options for Divorcing Spouses With Pets?
It is common for divorcing couples with pets to work through custody issues on their own. That can save a lot of time and money. When both parties love the pet and are willing to negotiate, they can discuss the topic as a family or work with an objective third-party negotiator, like a family member, friend, mediator, or lawyer. In rare cases, the custody concern cannot be resolved this way and may go to court.
Our Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Can Help You With Your Pet Custody Case
Our skilled Baltimore County divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC understand that pets are like family members and can help you resolve a custody concern. Call 443-589-0150 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.