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How does pet custody work in your divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2024 | Divorce

For many couples, going through a divorce represents a time of upheaval and emotional distress. Separating financial assets and other possessions can be a difficult process, and this is especially true when families have pets.

Understanding pet custody in Minnesota can help you make the right decision for your beloved companions.

Pets as property

With a reported 54% of Minnesota households including at least one pet, animals are often involved when a couple divorces. In this state, pets are property in divorce proceedings, making them more like belongings than children. While this might sound impersonal, it provides a clear framework for determining pet custody.

Negotiating custody

During a divorce, couples can negotiate who gets to keep the pet. Sometimes, one spouse will agree to give up ownership of the pet in exchange for something else, like a piece of furniture or a certain amount of money. Other times, couples may decide to share custody of the pet, alternating weeks or months.

Best interests of the pet

In some cases, if the couple cannot agree on who gets the pet, the court will step in and make a decision based on the best interests of the pet. Factors like who primarily takes care of the pet, who has the financial means to care for the pet and the pet’s attachment to each spouse are typically considered.

Creating a custody agreement

Even if a couple agrees on who gets the pet, it is a good idea to create a formal pet custody agreement. This document outlines things like who is responsible for feeding, grooming and taking the pet to the vet. It can also include arrangements for visitation if the couple decides to share custody.

Considering your pet’s well-being

Throughout the divorce process, both spouses need to keep the pet’s comfort and happiness in mind. Divorce can be stressful for everyone involved, including pets. Maintaining a stable environment and routine can help ease the transition for the pet.

By putting the pet’s needs first and creating a fair custody agreement, couples navigating a divorce can make this process smoother for everyone involved.