Your pets don’t need the same level of attention as your children in your divorce. Still, they are part of your family and losing them over to your ex may be dreadful to think about. In North Carolina, the courts consider pets as personal property, so they usually give the pet to one spouse or the other depending on their circumstances. However, divorcing spouses can also come to an agreement and determine joint custody so that neither of the parties loses contact with the family friend.
Pets as property in North Carolina
North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts will distribute the marital property between the divorcing spouses depending on what they consider fair instead of just splitting everything in two. Marital property is everything acquired during the marriage and separate property is everything acquired before the marriage. If you adopted the pet before you got married, you’d keep the pet. However, things are different if you adopted the pet during your marriage.
The bests interests of the pet
Only one of you will get the pet if you adopted them during the marriage. This is because, due to the pet’s status as property, awarding the pet to both of you would be the same as awarding you and your ex joint ownership of a car. To determine who gets custody of the pet the courts will consider different factors, including who is the primary caregiver and who has the best relationship with the pet.
If your pet is valuable, like a pure-breed or a show dog, the courts will give it to one owner and compensate the other for their loss. The court will calculate how much the pet in question is worth and compensate the other parent with other assets accordingly. Because of this, you can consider exchanging other valuable property you may own for your pet.
A mutual agreement
If your pet is marital property, you and your spouse have the possibility of keeping them both by reaching a mutual agreement. In the agreement, you could specify joint custody or visitation rights, depending on what you and your ex decide. You could even draft a sort of “parenting plan” for the pet or set visitation hours to avoid future disputes with your ex.
Keeping your friend
You have the right to get your pet in divorce if you adopted them before you got married. Even if this is not the case, you could come to an agreement with your ex and determine custody or visitation rights. If you are not divorced yet, you could create a post-nuptial agreement and list your pets as separate property. You spent valuable time educating and taking care of your animal friend, and you can fight for them in different ways.