Who gets the family pet in a divorce? Oftentimes during a divorce, the issue of child custody comes to mind first. However, for a lot people, pets are also considered to be members of the family and there are several things to consider in determining who gets the family pet. This entry will attempt to explain how North Carolina views pets in a divorce proceeding.
What Does NC Law Say About Family Pet Custody?
North Carolina law treats pets as property. As such, pets are treated just like a car, a house, a bank account, or other types of asset.Because a family pet is regarded as property, this means that the decision for who gets to keep the pet is decided in an equitable distribution hearing.
It is also important to note that North Carolina’s domestic violence statute N.C.G.S.§50-B3 provides judge’s with the authority to grant possession of the family pet to either party. This means that a judge can give possession of the family pet to a party as a result of a domestic violence protective order.
How Does Equitable Distribution Affect Pet Custody?
As we have described in our previous blog on equitable distribution, a court will look to the value of the pet and then determine whether to pet was purchased prior to the marriage or during the marriage. If one party to a divorce owned the pet before the marriage, that party will most likely get to receive custody of the pet.
Can Parties Agree to Who Gets to Keep the Pet Without Involving the Court?
Yes. Both parties to a marriage can enter into several different types of agreements which would specify who gets the pet in the event of a divorce. If both parties are entering into a marriage with a pet that is shared between them, they may be interested in a prenuptial agreement so that in the event of divorce, they have already agreed on who gets the pet. If the parties are in the divorce process, separation agreements and even custody plans can be created to meet this purpose.
If you are concerned about who will get custody of your family pet in the event of a divorce, consider setting up a consultation with a family law lawyer at Gilles Law, PLLC. You can reach us at 980-272-8438 at our office in Uptown Charlotte. We are here to assist with your inquiries.
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