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What happens to your pet during a divorce?

In some states, it’s normal to set up pet custody if you get a divorce. Is that how things work in North Carolina?

Unfortunately, no. If you get divorced, your pet will be subject to division as if it is any other kind of property. You won’t be able to fight for custody of your pet in court, but you can work out an agreement with your spouse outside of court.

Pets are property by law

According to North Carolina law, pets are property. The first thing that a court would do is look at when the pet was acquired. If you owned the pet before marriage, it may be considered separate property and be yours to take with you. If you purchased the pet during the marriage, then it would be considered marital property.

The value of your pet is the next thing that will be taken into consideration. If you paid $200 for it, then it would be worth that amount in the eyes of the court. Of course, there is no real value that you can place on your pet’s life, but it’s worth noting that the true cost of buying the pet will establish its value for the purpose of your divorce.

You can work out a better solution outside of court

While the court itself isn’t likely to help you set up custody arrangements for your pet, you can work out a different arrangement outside of court with your spouse directly. You may decide to share the pet in the future and create a document going over the way you’ll do that. For example, you may agree that one of you will house the pet but that the other can come walk it during the day while the other party is at work. You could also work out an arrangement to share custody, splitting the pet’s time between homes.

Pets are living creatures, so it’s reasonable to want to seek custody. Though you can’t do this in court, you can try to work out a solution with your ex privately. If you do, you can submit your agreement to the court to make it legally binding.