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Considering Pets in an Ohio Divorce

Considering Pets in an Ohio Divorce
October 29, 2018 Shannon Dawes
How to prepare for a divorce in Ohio

Divorces involve many heated issues, one of which might be who will keep the family pet. How are pets taken into consideration during a divorce under current Ohio laws? Dawes Legal, LLC, discusses this issue in the blog below.

Ohio Law on Pets

Some states in the U.S. have enacted laws that treat pets more like children than property. The list of states with these laws includes Alaska, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. These laws were designed to address the emotional aspects of placing a pet with one spouse or the other, an issue that felt a lot more like child custody than division of property to many couples.

While Ohio judges and lawmakers understand the attachment spouses have to their pets, Ohio still considers pets personal property for purposes of divorce or other cases involving lost or stolen pets. Therefore, pets will technically be subject to the same rules as other pieces of property in a divorce — the rules of equitable division.

Factors for Determining Pet Placement

Like any other decision regarding property during a divorce, you and your spouse can decide where your pets should live by way of an agreement outside of court. You can do this on your own or through the process of mediation. However, if you are unable to agree together about pet placement, the court overseeing your divorce can become involved to make the determination for you.

In reaching a determination regarding your pets, the court will consider some of the same factors as it would with other property, such as the duration of the marriage and the assets of both spouses. But other factors usually considered for property will not apply to pets. The court will substitute other factors specific to your pets to arrive at the most equitable decision. These can include:

  • Whether one spouse bought/adopted the pet before the marriage;
  • How long the pet lived with both spouses;
  • Whether one spouse contributed more financially to the pet (food, veterinary care, grooming, etc.);
  • Whether one spouse was more responsible for the pet’s day-to-day care;
  • Whether either of the spouses ever abused or neglected the pet;
  • Whether the spouse with primary child custody should keep the pet (for the best interests of the children).

Usually, after looking at all available information, the court will place the pet with one spouse. Sometimes, though, the court will consider alternating placement for the pet. For instance, the pet might travel with the children, or the pet might spend alternating periods of time with both spouses. The final arrangement will depend on what the court believes is most fair.

Dawes Legal, LLC, understands the difficulties of making decisions about your pets during a divorce. Our firm can help you come to the best conclusions for yourself and your pets and guide you through the rest of the divorce process. Call our Columbus office today at (614) 733-9999 to schedule an initial consultation.