Canine Custody-Who Gets the Dog?
Updated: Mar 5, 2019
A recent study estimated that 78 million dogs are owned in the United States and that 44% of all households in the nation include a canine (or several). It’s not surprising, therefore, that owners spent approximately $60.59 billion on their pets in 2015, a sign that pets are increasingly considered family in our households. Perhaps not included in the above figure are attorney fees spent negotiating the custody agreement of Fido during a divorce.
In Ohio, dogs are considered personal property by the court. If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement through counsel or mediation, the court will ultimately make the decision for you.
Pets & Prenuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement can help protect property in case a marriage ends in divorce. Because a pet is considered property, inclusion of Fido in an agreement prior to marriage will help prevent future heartache and expense. Ensuring your Ohio prenuptial agreement is enforceable is important, and our prenuptial agreement attorney can help you with the process.
The Canine & The Court
If your pet is not mentioned in a prenuptial agreement and you and your spouse are unable to agree on custody arrangements, the Ohio Court will take several factors into account before issuing a property order:
Who purchased or adopted the pet?
Which spouse paid for food and veterinary services?
Is one spouse more financially able to care for the pet?
Does one spouse rely on the pet for emotional or medical support?
Who has been the primary caregiver?
It is extremely important, therefore, to keep documentation regarding the above factors in case of divorce. We consider pets our family, and their well-being following a separation must be protected.