Who Gets The Pets In A Michigan Divorce?
Michigan Divorce Lawyer
If you or a loved one is getting divorced in Michigan, you should speak to a divorce lawyer. They know how to help you evaluate your legal options and rights. Law Offices of Ravi R. Gurumurthy, PLC has considerable experience with divorce, child custody, child support, and more. We will fight for you. When you are ready, reach out to Law Offices of Ravi R. Gurumurthy, PLC, for a free consultation by calling (231) 577-1580 or contacting us online.
Children, finances, and pets are three of the most bitterly contested, emotionally antagonizing issues in divorce cases. The emotional connection between an individual and their pet can be heightened by the changes and sense of loss or isolation a divorce can bring. Knowing that, sometimes, one divorcing spouse will use the issue of pet custody as leverage or a weapon against the other party. Pet custody disputes most often involve a dog but can happen over animals such as cats, snakes, birds, or reptiles. If you are contemplating filing for divorce or are navigating the divorce process and unable to agree on who gets to keep a pet, retaining an experienced, compassionate Michigan Divorce attorney can help you craft a resolution you are comfortable with for your beloved pet.
How Do Courts View Pets In Michigan Divorces?
Childless couples, and even some with children, often consider a pet virtually equal to a child. They will fret about the pet’s health care, nutrition, and lifestyle. Unfortunately, the Michigan courts do not consider pets equivalent to human children when it comes to divorce proceedings. Pets will be treated as another item of property to be divided – similar to the furniture in your house. A knowledgeable attorney can help you negotiate your property division, including your pets, and will be mindful of your pet’s emotional value to you.
How Does The Court Decide Ownership?
Michigan courts view pets as chattel or property to be equitably divided. This means that, similar to other items of marital property, the court will look at several issues in deciding who gets post-divorce possession. Sometimes, the issue is pretty straightforward. For example, the court will likely award you the pet as property:
- If you owned the pet before the marriage
- If your spouse gifted you the pet during the marriage
- If you inherited the pet individually
If none of those instances apply, the court will view the pets as marital property subject to equitable division. This is where the issue can get complicated. While the court will not consider the emotional value of the pet, the parties often cannot separate that from the actual monetary value, which is usually the replacement value of the animal. Engaging an attorney who respects and understands your pet’s value to you is imperative to help advocate a favorable outcome.
Resolving A Divorce Dispute Involving Pets
Parties can try to reach an equitable resolution to pet custody issues, or they can allow the Michigan courts to decide the dispute. Relying on the courts can lead to an outcome that eliminates the emotion but does not make either party happy. An attorney can assist you in calmly and strongly advocating for a resolution you feel comfortable with for your beloved pet. You or your spouse may value your pet more than the actual financial replacement value that a court would assign, and that provides an opportunity for a more creative resolution than a court could provide. Whether crafting a “custody” schedule such as would be established for a human or deciding that the pet will travel with the human children on their custody schedule, or requesting and offering some concession in exchange for the pet, the solutions can be negotiated.
Michigan Divorce And Pets Attorney
Emotions in divorce can run very high, and most people do not view pets as merely a piece of property to be divided according to market value. Our attorneys understand the deep attachment many feel to their pets and the anguish that can accompany arguing over their possession. Retaining a representative well-versed in the power struggle a pet dispute involves can help you protect your interests and emotions. If you are embroiled in a dispute over custody of your pets, please call The Law Offices of Rami R. Gurumurthy at (231) 577-1580 today to schedule your free consultation.