If you are like many modern pet owners, then you treat your dog like part of the family. They may dress up in a costume for Halloween and have their own stocking full of treats to enjoy on Christmas morning. You might even throw them a birthday party every year to celebrate their contributions to your life.
Having a dog can absolutely enrich your life and be valuable to everyone in your family, but your pet will be a major source of stress if you and your spouse decide to get a divorce. It is common for spouses to fight bitterly over the possession of a pet at the end of their marriage.
What will happen to your beloved canine during an Ohio divorce?
In Ohio, your pet is essentially property
While you view your beloved companion animal as a full-fledged member of your family, the courts won’t view your pet the same way. Only a handful of states have laws that allow the court to consider the animal’s needs or to arrange for shared pet custody, and Ohio currently is not one of them.
If you cannot settle the matter of your pet outside of court, then a judge will include your dog in the property division proceedings. Unless one of you clearly owned the dog prior to marriage and can claim it as separate property, the judge will be the one who decides who gets to keep your pets after a litigated divorce. They will assign your pet a value and use that value as part of how they divide your property.
Does that mean you have to say goodbye to Fido?
The idea of abandoning your dog might break your heart, but the good news is that you have options when it comes to resolving property division issues and other concerns in your divorce.
You and your spouse have the option of working collaboratively to arrange your own settlements. You can negotiate a shared custody arrangement for your dog or even visitation if one spouse has a demanding career.
Exploring all of your options could help you protect what matters most to you in your Ohio divorce.