Pet owners often feel as though their furry friends are not just animals, but part of the family. Parting with a beloved pet can be particularly painful for these individuals. And yet this is the reality that many people face when they go through a divorce.
Who gets the dog?
Dogs, cats and other pets are considered to be property in North Carolina. This means that rather than dealing with pets during a process that is similar to children and child custody, pets are generally lumped into the property division process. Deciding who gets the dog is a lot different than splitting up assets like the family home or vehicles.
Consider a pup-nup
Most people have heard of prenuptial agreements, but a pup-nup is an agreement that specifically addresses what happens to a pet during a divorce. A pup-nup might stipulate that the dog belongs to just one spouse, and will remain with that person should the couple decide to divorce. A couple might also choose to share ownership of a pet after divorce. For those who intend to share the pet, it is also important to address:
- The details of who gets the pet when
- Who will take the pet to the vet
- How to split expenses
A pup-nup can be created either before or after a couple has already gotten married. However, these should not be informal or simply verbal agreements, which would make it difficult to enforce during a divorce. Instead, North Carolina couples may want to explore their options for creating a formal agreement clearly addressing ownership of their pet and what should happen in the event of a divorce.