During a divorce in Georgia, couples may have a difficult time deciding on who will take ownership of the family dog. The courts view pets and other owned animals as though they are property, which a judge divides by what seems “fair” for each spouse. When one individual develops a stronger relationship with a pet, fairness may require accommodating the bond and devotion to an award of care for the animal.
According to Reader’s Digest, couples sometimes determine who gets ownership of the pet based on who can afford to care for it after a divorce. If an individual does not have a steady income, he or she may not have the means to afford its feeding, maintenance and upkeep. While an individual may request alimony or financial support, there is no rule requiring animals to receive support payments from an ex-spouse.
Custody of children and pets
When considering the children involved in a couple’s divorce, it may make more sense to decide on the family dog living with the kids and the parent who has custody of them. The parent with visitation rights could then allow the animals to come along with the kids when they visit. The family court, however, has no obligation to award custody or visitation rights for any pets.
Payout of an expensive animal
Sometimes, an animal represents an expensive investment, such as an exotic and rare breed or a dog groomed for shows. If the couple acquired the pet during their marriage, the court considers it marital property subject to division under Georgia’s equitable distribution laws.
Depending on the value of the pet, one spouse may receive half of its worth from the other spouse before taking sole ownership of it. When a dog generated income from shows that the couple benefited from, the value of its future income may require a payment to the spouse who gives up his or her ownership rights.