Who Gets the Pet in an Ohio Divorce?

February 11, 2020  

Since the 1970s, pet ownership in the United States has more than tripled, and divorce rates have increased, as well. When most people consider dividing up the assets of a marriage in an Ohio divorce, one issue that is commonly overlooked is which spouse will get the pet. Disputes over pet ownership are becoming increasingly common, and if you expect a fight with your spouse over who gets your pet in a divorce it is important to understand the law and what you can do to ensure that you receive custody of your pet in the divorce. To learn more, call or contact Kryszak & Associates today to schedule a free consultation.

Ohio Pet Custody Law

Some states, such as Illinois and California, have adopted laws in recent years that address the issue of pet custody in divorce cases. These states require that the court take into consideration the well-being of the pet when determining whom the pet will live with after the divorce and recognizes that people have much closer attachments to their pets than other pieces of inanimate property. Unfortunately, Ohio has yet to adopt this type of law regarding pet custody in divorce cases. Instead, the law treats a pet like any other type of personal property in a divorce and must be divided according to the rules of equitable distribution.

In situations in which one spouse entered into the marriage with the pet, that spouse will retain ownership of the pet in a divorce as a piece of separate property. This applies even if you were the primary caretaker of the pet during the marriage. However, if you and your spouse purchased or adopted a pet during the course of your marriage it is considered marital property, and there are steps that you can take to prove to the court that you deserve ownership after the divorce. 

Steps to Prove Ownership

If your name is on the bill of sale or adoption papers, this can serve as good evidence in your divorce case. Keep track of all receipts regarding the pet’s care, such as food, toys, and grooming. Keep track of who takes care of the pet and who takes the pet for veterinary visits. Showing the court that you are the primary caretaker for the pet can help prove that you deserve custody of the pet after the divorce. If you have children who are also close to the pet and you receive primary custody, this can also be a compelling argument as to why you deserve custody of the pet after the divorce.

Call or Contact Us Now

Determining which spouse a pet should live with after a divorce can be a stressful and emotionally fraught situation. If you would like to speak with an expert in Ohio divorce law about the status of your pet’s custody after the divorce, call or contact Kryszak & Associates today to schedule a free consultation of your case.