In many marriages, both spouses form a loving bond with their household pets. If a divorce is decided upon and neither party are willing to part ways with their furry friend, the courts must decide what to do with them.

“You may consider your pets to be a member of your family,” said Thomas D. Bumgardner, Charlotte family lawyer. “But, by law, they are treated strictly as property.”

How Do The Courts Decide?

In some states, courts treat pets as if they were children of the divorcing parents. The judge may hear evidence and use it to award custody or visitation rights. This is not the case in North Carolina. A monetary value will be placed on each animal. In more simple terms, the dog, cat or other animal type will be given a dollar value.

Since NC is an equal distribution state, each pet will be placed under the care of one party simply based on what is monetarily fair. They will not hear evidence of who took care of the pet more or who is the more responsible pet owner, the decision will only be made with dollars and cents in mind.

What Can You Do About It?

In the past, we have mentioned the benefits of a settlement through mediation. In the instance where pets are involved, our recommendation is no different. When you seek a settlement through mediation, you and your partner are in control of what assets go where.

These agreements can include pets. In fact, you can even set up a visitation schedule if you wish. It is important to keep your children’s attachment to the pet in mind. If one parent will have custody of the child for a certain period of time, creating the same schedule for the animal is strongly recommended. Having the pet be a part of the visits may also help the child adjust and transition into their new living arrangements.

Talk To Your Charlotte Family Lawyer

An experienced family lawyer will help their clients make decisions that will be best for them and their family. Thomas D. Bumgardner has years of experience offering his clients settlement through mediation.

“The judge will only use the information in front of them,” said Bumgardner. “They will often be forced to make decisions without any context. When a divorcing couple decides to have a settlement through mediation, they’re putting the fate of their property and children back in their hands.”

To set up a free consultation with Thomas D. Bumgardner, please call (704) 887-4982