What happens to the dog during your divorce?

| Jan 28, 2021 | Firm News |

Your pet seems more like a member of your family than an animal. Owning a dog is also good for your health and overall well-being. Still, if you are planning to divorce your spouse, you may have some concern about what may happen to your pooch. 

In Maryland and in many other places, dogs are personal property for divorce purposes. Consequently, like with everything else you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse own, you must divide the dog with the rest of the marital estate. 

Can you reach an acceptable agreement?

Maryland’s equitable distribution statute probably entitles you to a fair share of the marital estate. You simply cannot split the dog into two equitable pieces, though. If you can reach an acceptable agreement with your husband or wife, though, a judge is likely to respect it. 

For example, you and your spouse may decide to share custody of the dog. If you go this route, you must decide who pays for what. You also must address custodial time. Then, you should consider including the agreement in your legally binding divorce settlement. 

Do you anticipate conflict?

In the lead-up to your divorce, your husband or wife may have little interest in negotiating an agreement. If you anticipate conflict, you may want to consider preparing an argument for why you should have exclusive ownership of the dog. 

Answering the following questions may be helpful: 

  • Who purchased or adopted the dog? 
  • Who cares for the dog? 
  • Who pays for the dog? 

Ultimately, whether you can convince a judge to give you the dog may depend on a few different factors. Still, by gathering pertinent evidence about your ability to provide for the animal, you may boost your chances of keeping the dog.