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Who gets to keep your beloved cat when you file for divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2022 | Family Law |

For married couples that share children, custody matters are often the most contentious aspect of the divorce. Couples who don’t share children may still have a very emotional issue to negotiate. They could share a pet. 

If you got a kitten in the first year of your marriage, it is probably emotionally important to you and your spouse now that it is an adult cat that you have loved and played with for years. You may both want the cat to stay with you when you go your separate ways. 

What will actually happen with companion animals in a Georgia divorce? 

The courts treat your pets like property

While the cat that you have raised has incalculable emotional value for you and your spouse, at most it may be worth a few thousand dollars if it is a designer breed like a Scottish Fold. The same is true of dogs. 

For the purpose of divorce, they are an asset worth a certain amount of money based on training, age and breed. The courts won’t invest time in the creation of a shared custody arrangement for your pet. They will simply award the animal to one spouse as part of the property division process. For some people, accepting that their relationship with their pet may end in the divorce, especially if they work a high-demand career, can be a necessary and emotionally challenging step in the process. 

Others have such a profound emotional attachment to the animals that they raised that they find it worthwhile to negotiate a settlement with their spouse where they keep the pet or at least secure visitation rights. Provided that the two of you cooperate, your uncontested settlement could include terms for shared pet custody. 

Learning more about the property division process in Georgia can help those concerned about assets with financial or emotional value.