For many people, their beloved dog or cat is a treasured part of the family unit. In some situations, the pet or pets are given the same amount of love or affection as some children, which can make it difficult to determine who gets the pets in a divorce in North Carolina?
Pets As Property
Although Fido might be considered to be a member of the family, in North Carolina, Fido is considered to be personal property. As such, as long as Fido was acquired after a couple’s marriage, Fido would be considered a divorcing couple’s marital property. Because of this, Fido would be assigned a monetary value as a piece of property and then factored into the total value of a couple’s property in order to be divided upon divorce.
When a couple gets divorced, if they cannot come to an agreement as to how to divide their property, a judge will decide how the property will be distributed. Since Fido would be part of that property, a judge will have to decide which party will get ownership of Fido based on equality of value. In doing this, the judge does not have to consider any factors that would show who took care of Fido or who loved him more. As such, a judge will often simply look at the dollars and cents and determine a distribution that is roughly equal in monetary terms.
Property Distribution Agreements
The other alternative for a divorcing couple is to come to an agreement outside of court for how to distribute their property. By doing this, not only do they avoid having a judge decide how their property will be divided, but they can also take time to make agreements regarding special items, like pets.
If you have a strong emotional tie to your pet or pets, it may be smart to come to an agreement with your spouse as you go through the divorce process about who will retain ownership of the family pets. Not only does that insure that Fido will have a loving home, but it will also open up a dialogue between you and your spouse about how your property will be distributed, which can save both time and money.
Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C., to set up a free, personalized consultation with one of our experienced Family Law attorneys. Minick Law has offices in Asheville, Waynesville, Charlotte and Gastonia. Call today (704) 323 8485
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