Pets are considered to be an important part of the family. Pets can often be treated as children or other property of the couple when it comes to divorce. The law classifies pets as property to be divided in Georgia divorce cases. Typically, the pet is awarded to one spouse and the other spouse is restricted to see or visit the pet. However, some courts approach this in a way that resembles more of child custody than property division when it comes to pet custody.
According to the data summoned by the United States Census Bureau; In 2009, Georgia was among the 14 states in America that had divorce rates significantly above the US average, ranging from 10.0 to 13.5 per 1000.
How is Pet Custody Established in Georgia Divorce Cases?
Georgia courts determine pet custody in Georgia divorce cases based on various factors. Property division laws apply in such cases as Georgia law considers pets as personal property. Georgia is an equitable division state, which means that marital property will be divided in a fair and just manner.
Equitable means fair and impartial. Therefore, it is not necessary that courts will divide the property equally between both spouses in the Georgia divorce cases. All of the couple’s marital property that is subject to the division will be taken into consideration by the court and will be divided in a fair and impartial manner.
The pets are aggregated into the rest of the couple’s property. However, this phenomenon raises an important question; “when were the pets acquired?”. The acquisition date of the pets can have a huge effect on the property division process.
The Concept of Marital vs. Separate Property Explained by an Albany Divorce Attorney:
Marital property is the property obtained during the marriage and is subject to division among the spouses during Georgia divorce cases. This means that any property that the couple bought in their marriage, will be deemed as marital property in Georgia divorce cases, and will be divided. Any property that is acquired before the marriage or is received after marriage as an inheritance or a gift will be deemed as personal property. Such property will not be subject to division. The same law is applicable in the case of pets. If one spouse bought the pet before their marriage or received it as a gift or a form of inheritance, such pet belongs to the individual spouse and is not to be divided or lumped with marital property.
Adequate documentation of pets along with other properties acquired prior to or subsequent to the marriage is vital in Georgia divorce cases, as it indicates the date of acquisition of such property.
Will the Court make Special Consideration to Ascertain Pet Custody?
As mentioned above, courts usually apply property division laws while establishing custody of the pet. However, other factors are also taken into account when determining who should get the pet. The following is a list of a few of those factors:
- Which spouse has a deeper relationship with the pet
- Which spouse takes more care of the pet
- Which spouse, if any, has been neglectful or harsh on the pet
- Which spouse makes more time for the pet or more frequently takes them for a walk
It is essential to document every aspect of your relationship with the pet, including images or videos with them, in order to portray a clear picture of the relationship for a better understanding of the court.
Is Joint Pet Custody a Viable Option? A Brief Overview by an Albany Divorce Lawyer:
A court may grant shared custody of the pet in some cases and devise a shared pet custody agreement. Shared custody of your pet may sound like an ideal scenario. However, it may become complex and cause bitterness and disagreements in some cases. It is recommended to fully comprehend the situation along with the property that matters most. This can be a residential property, car, investment property, or even a pet.
About Joe Durham Law:
We at Joe Durham Law Firm consist of a team of qualified divorce lawyers in Albany, GA. Our team will guide you throughout your divorce process and will also give you professional advice on how to deal with joint pet custody along with its legal implications. We also have a super friendly customer support team that will document all the facts regarding your divorce along with any details of your pets and other properties. Call us today to put a hassle-free end to your marriage and to discuss the optimum solution for your pets and property division.