There is nothing quite like the relationship between a person and his or her pet. However, that bond can be at risk for pet owners who are going through a divorce. In North Carolina, animals are considered legal property and tend to get lumped in with property division. Pet owners who are worried about the consequences of addressing pet ownership in the property division process do have another option, though.
Focusing on pet custody
It is often better to work out a pet custody agreement with an ex than it is to head to court. Many judges do not favor the idea of shared pet custody and will assign ownership to just one person. Divorcing spouses who are both eager to maintain a relationship with a pet might be better prepared to agree on what is in that pet’s best interest on their own.
Create a petnup
Most people in North Carolina have probably heard of a prenuptial agreement. A petnup is an agreement that specifically focuses on what will happen to a four-legged friend should a couple decide to divorce. These are especially useful if one person is bringing an animal into the marriage, or if a married couple gets a pet after already saying “I do.” A few things a petnup should address include:
- Pet ownership
- Visitation or custody arrangements
- Pet related costs
Divorce is an emotional process, and throwing a pet into the mix does not make things any easier. Minimizing conflict throughout a divorce can be very helpful, though. Many couples choose to utilize alternative dispute resolutions, such as mediation or arbitration, before heading to court.