Although Georgia divorce law typically treats pets like personal property, you may view your pet as more of a family member or beloved companion rather than a piece of furniture. Over half of households own one or more pets, and children, as well as adults, often form strong attachments to their pets. When a divorce occurs, deciding who gets the pet can turn into a contentious battle in some situations.
While the court won’t consider the “best interests” of the pet in a contested divorce case, it can take into consideration certain factors about which spouse is best suited to care for the pet. These factors might include:
- Which spouse has the ability to care for the pet on a daily basis, according to his or her work or travel schedule
- Which spouse brought the pet into the marriage or purchased the pet
- Whether the children are attached to the pet and, if so, where the spouses will be living most of the time
- Which spouse typically cares for the pet, i.e. feeding it, grooming it, taking it to the vet, etc.
Since the laws regarding property division apply to pet custody disputes in a Georgia divorce, it is best for couples to try to come to an agreement about whom should keep the pet on their own, outside of the courtroom. Even if a court agrees to incorporate the parties’ pet custody agreement into their divorce decree, however, it is unlikely that a court will enforce the provisions of the decree related to the pet should one of the parties fail to live up to the agreement.
It is also important to keep in mind that disputes over the custody of a pet can be very emotional and stressful for all parties involved. An increasing number of adults treat pets more like their children than animals, which results in a strong attachment and strong feelings about being separated from their pets. When added to the other emotional stressors of a divorce, deciding with whom a pet should live can be a hotly contested and very difficult situation.
For more information about how pets are handled in your divorce proceedings, talk to the Atlanta divorce lawyer who knows how to represent your interests, including your wishes for your pets.
Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your family.
Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.