Gregg R. Lewis

Trusted Family Law

Services In Columbus

Gregg R. Lewis
Trusted Family Law Services In Columbus

How to keep your pet out of property division

| May 6, 2020 | Complex Property Division |

More and more people are adopting animals, even leaving some shelters completely empty. Pets can bring a lot of comfort during uncertain times and often grow to be so much more than just animals. Instead, they are considered members of the family. While it is great that people in Ohio are opening up their homes and hearts in this way, divorcing couples with pets might soon realize just how complicated property division can be.

Regardless of how pet parents feel about their furry or scaly friends, Ohio state law oversimplifies these pets into a single category — property. This means that instead of working out some kind of custody arrangement like parents with children do, pet parents are expected to sometimes just part with their animal for good. Unsatisfied with losing their pets, divorcing couples are fighting against this idea more frequently.

When the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers asked about battles over pet custody, 27% of surveyed attorneys said they had seen an increase in the number of couples willing to fight for their animals. Of the pet custody cases that end up in court, an overwhelming 88% involve dogs, while only 6% include less mainstream pets, such as snakes. Cat owners also seem to end up in court less often, as only 5% of the reported court cases involved these furry animals. It might not be that people in Ohio love their dogs more than other pets, but that dogs are generally more popular.

There is a surprisingly simple solution to this complicated problem — a pet nup. A pet nup is simply a prenuptial agreement that addresses how a couple will split pet custody should they ever file for divorce. A comprehensive pet nup should also include who is responsible for pet-related costs, including things like dog walkers and vet visits. A pet nup that covers these important details should prevent a pet from getting lumped into property division, where one of its pet parents might have to say a difficult goodbye.