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What Happens to Pets in a Divorce? March 14, 2019

Fairbanks, Fairbanks North Star
What Happens to Pets in a Divorce?, Fairbanks, Alaska

Most couples might consider their pets part of the family, but the law doesn't. In the eyes of the law, animals are personal property and should be treated as such during divorce proceedings. If you are in the process of ending your marriage and are concerned about what might happen to any furry friends under family law, consult the following guide. 

When the Owners Can Agree

If a divorcing couple can agree on who gets to keep the pets—or on some kind of regular visitation schedule—a judge will likely sign off on it. Since pets are considered personal property, though, it’s important to remember that the terms of such an agreement may not necessarily be enforceable under divorce law. The courts do not recognize the custody of pets and therefore are not inclined to enforce visitation in the same way that they might if children were involved.

When the Owners Cannot Agree

family lawIf a divorcing couple cannot agree on who gets to keep the pets, the final decision will ultimately be up to a judge, who will consider a variety of factors. For example, the judge will want to know who primarily cares for the animals, whether they were obtained prior to the marriage, and which party has a more accommodating lifestyle. If the couple shares children, the custody arrangement could also influence the final decision regarding ownership of the pets. 

It’s important to note that animals used for breeding are also considered personal property; however, unlike traditional pets, they could influence the final divorce settlement because they likely hold some value. In other words, if one party retains ownership of the breeding business, the other may be entitled to a different asset. 


For strategic legal counsel on all matters pertaining to family law, turn to Gazewood & Weiner PC. With one office in Anchorage and a second in Fairbanks, they help clients throughout Alaska resolve contentious family law disputes. From emancipation to child custody cases, they do it all. As a general practice firm, they also assist with civil litigation, personal injury suits, and criminal defense. To learn more about their knowledgeable legal team, visit their website. Call (907) 375-7905 to request a consultation with a family law attorney in Anchorage, or dial (907) 452-5196 to speak with someone at their Fairbanks location. 

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