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My Pet and Divorce

Posted by Kathleen Murphy | Mar 21, 2019

During a separation, the parties invariably have a beloved family pet and the possession of the animal becomes a very delicate area of the law.

An animal is considered a piece of property. There are several scenarios to consider.

A pet is purchased by a couple before marriage. The couple allows one or the other person to place their name on the AKC Registration.  The court looks at the AKC Registration or the adoption papers to determine if the animal is pre-marital and if so, the animal is not marital property subject to distribution.

If the animal was purchased during the marriage, title is irrelevant but may be considered by the Court as intent of the parties.  If the parties are unable to agree on what happens with the pet, the Court will have to distribute possession of your pet. At that stage that the Court looks at who provided financially for the animal and who presently has possession as of the date of the hearing on Equitable Distribution.

About the Author

Kathleen Murphy

Kathleen Murphy is graduate of North Carolina State University with a B.A. in Political Science, 1985. She attended Campbell University Law School and received her Juris Doctorate, 1988. Ms. Murphy has been a family law attorney for over 30 years and has limited her practice solely to family law since 1988. On October 1, 2023, Kathleen accepted a position as a senior attorney with Triangle Divorce Lawyers and she can be reached at [email protected]. Ms. Murphy is a member of the North Carolina State Bar, North Carolina Bar Association, NCBA Family Law Section Member, is a trained Family Financial Mediator and a trained Child's Advocate. Ms. Murphy is married to a City of Raleigh Firefighter and has four children, three daughters and a son. Ms. Murphy is a contributor to an International podcast. Crime Stories with Nancy Grace is broadcasted daily and you can hear Ms. Murphy's comments on cases involving victims of family crimes and the impact of family court.