Any dog lover will tell you that their pooch is part of the family. So what happens when their “parents” decide to split?
Breakups are never pleasant and often times downright messy, especially when it comes to the division of assets. Who gets the family pet has become such a hot topic that couples are including the issue in prenups.
However, it’s not uncommon to hear one party using the dog as more of a bargaining tool to get what they want, according to Mitchell B. Gordon, a Chicago-based attorney with Bradford & Gordon, Inc. He points out that a lot of times, it’s not the pet that couples are really fighting over.
“One partner knows the emotions the other has [for] the pet and uses it against them in the divorce,” Gordon explained.
So what’s in a pet prenup? Instructions on care and custody, along with a designated veterinarian to make any medical decisions, should its human parents be unable to agree.
However, courts don’t consider Fluffy or Rover as part of your family. The law view pets as personal property, just like the contents in your home, even as people’s relationships to their pets have changed over time. That’s why some states are looking at changing pets’ status.
In most cases it comes down to which partner’s name is on the paperwork when purchasing or adopting the dog, Regina DeMao, an attorney in the Washington, D.C., and Maryland area, said.
“Title is important,” said DeMao. “With certain joint property you can sell it and split the proceeds. But with a pet, you can’t do that.”