In the work we’ve done through our law firm in Salt Lake City since 1973, we’ve found that almost no married people in Utah have written prenuptial agreements with provisions for keeping their pets if the marriage dissolves. The question of who keeps the cats, dogs, or other pets will often come up suddenly, and under stress.
This question can make agreeing over anything that much harder. A good Utah divorce lawyer understands the stress, can help deescalate the tension, and guide the client through the process of ensuring the animals’ well-being.
Most states, Utah included, apply the traditional view that pets are assigned to one of the parties along with other property from the marital estate. Joint custody for a pet is not the norm, although several states’ laws are developing to enable joint custody decisions and Utah’s could too.
Today, How Does the Court Decide Who Gets the Family Pets?
The court might look at several factors:
- Who has the longest and strongest bond with the pet?
- Who takes care of the pet’s basic needs and makes the vet trips?
- Which parent will spend the most time with the coulple’s children?
- Who will be better able to cover the costs of caregiving, and supply the optimal situation for the pet after you separate?
- After separation, one or both parties will have a new living space. How will one person’s new space workfor one or more pets?
Often, these become complicated and difficult decisions. When the couple has children, the pets may be deemed most likely to thrive best with the kids’ attention, and remain with the parent who takes primary custody of the children. But not always. The other partner might have more time and resources for animal care, and the children can visit the animals when they see that parent.
Getting Custody of Your Pet
In Utah, marriage partners can decide the matter themselves, and submit their agreement to the court. We often help clients work out a satisfactory and binding agreement outside of the courtroom. This works best when both parties can agree that they want to give the pets the best possible care after the divorce.
If it’s not possible to come to such an agreement, and you’re facing a pet custody dispute, we can advise you on your legal rights and options. We’ll advocate on your behalf to keep you and your pets together.
At Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law, we see a growing number of cases where custody of the pets is one of the most serious disputes to resolve during the divorce process. We are committed to assisting our clients secure the very best living situation for the animals involved, which in some cases can entail an arrangement tantamount to custody with a visitation plan and financial support for the pet.
Free Initial Consultation with Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law in Salt Lake City, Utah
With Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law, our clients receive advice and support from legal experts highly experienced in Utah divorce. Because we work on all aspects of divorce and family law, Wall & Wall is here to advise our clients on the future of the animals they cherish.