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Who Gets the Pets After a Divorce? January 7, 2020

Chelsea, Manhattan
Who Gets the Pets After a Divorce?, Manhattan, New York

When couples separate, they often prefer a quick divorce to part ways and move on. If you and your ex-spouse adopted pets throughout your marriage, you likely want to maintain ownership of your furry friend. When filling out your divorce papers with a document preparing agency, it’s best to understand how the courts appoint pet ownership during a divorce. The guide below discusses these factors in more detail.

What Happens to Pets During a Divorce?

Quick divorceWhile many people consider their dog or cat to be a member of the family, the law treats pets as property. As such, when the courts divide assets, they take several factors into consideration when deciding which spouse will receive ownership of the pet: 

  • Prenuptial Agreement: Couples cannot legally assign custody of children using a pre- or post-nuptial agreement or bargain away their rights to child support. However, because pets are considered property, pet ownership can be legally assigned at the outset of a marriage or even afterward.
  • Original Owner: Courts also consider who the original owner of the pet was. If they originally belonged to one spouse before marriage, that fact usually carries considerable weight.
  • Primary Pet Care Provider: If there is no prenup and the pet joined the family after the marriage, courts will ask who the pet's primary caregiver is. Which spouse feeds, walks, and takes the pet to the veterinarian? If that spouse can substantiate this—for example, with a deposition from your veterinarian—it should help convince the court of their position.
  • Better Environment: Finally, the court considers which spouse can provide the best environment for the pet. They look at work schedules, home accommodations, and income to ensure the pet lives in a comfortable environment. 


If you’re ready for a pre nuptial agreement or a quick divorce, the team at We The People of NY can help you file your documents in a timely manner. Based in Manhattan, the team thoroughly prepares each section, including property and assets, where you can list your furry friend. They have more than 25 years of experience helping residents throughout New York City with the prepararation important documentation. Visit their website to browse their services or call (212) 633-2200 to schedule document preparation for a quick divorce. 

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