Getting Creative With Pet Custody in North Carolina

You need to own a pet to understand the emotional value of these animals. Cats and dogs can become valued members of the family, and although they might not be "worth" as much to divorcing spouses as children, the thought of losing them can still be devastating. And for spouses who do not have any children, the legal battle over pet custody can be just as fierce as a child custody battle. We all know that divorces can take an enormous emotional toll on spouses, and animals can be helpful during these difficult times. Indeed, divorcing spouses may rely on a pet's emotional support more than at any other time in their life. 

Suppose you want to handle matters related to pet custody in the most efficient way possible. In that case, it makes sense to get in touch with an experienced divorce attorney in North Carolina. These professionals can guide you toward a favorable legal outcome, and they can prevent the loss of your pet. Although some might find a pet custody battle laughable, a legal professional will never judge you for caring about a critical animal. Their job is to make the divorce as easy as possible for you, and they can help you achieve your big and small goals. 

The Basics of Pet Custody

In North Carolina, pets are viewed as property in the legal world. In other words, courts view them in the same way as a car or a piece of jewelry. Because of this, pets are dealt with in precisely the same way as any other piece of property via the equitable distribution system. This means that they may be distributed in an unbiased manner by a judge. They may be traded with other assets to create a fair outcome, or they may be awarded to certain parties who seem to get more value out of the "property." If a spouse purchased the pet before the marriage took place, the animal is "separate property," and it is not subject to equitable distribution. 

Creating a Separation Agreement

With all that said, spouses can create their own agreements outside of court by negotiating a separation agreement. With this approach, spouses have the freedom and flexibility to handle various matters in essentially whatever way they see fit. This includes issues related to pet custody. For example, you could create an agreement outside of court that gives each parent joint control of the animal, allowing both spouses to spend equal amounts of time with the animal. 

Pet Custody Stories

On October 27th, it was reported that New York had created a new set of laws that allowed owners to dispute the ownership of pets in the state's family court. Known as the Pet Custody Bill, this law means that pets are no longer viewed as marital property in a divorce or separation. In addition, courts have been instructed to "consider the animal's best interests" when deciding which spouse should receive custody. 

The bill only protects "companion animals," which can be any domesticated animal that is kept in the house (excluding farm animals). Previously, the animal's best interests were only really considered outside of court when spouses created separation agreements that included matters related to pet ownership. But with this new bill, New York courts will consider these factors when divorces go to trial. 

On October 28th, it was reported that a couple in Spain had been granted joint custody of their dog after splitting up. The pair were willing to go to court over the matter after their 20-month relationship came to an end, and a judge ruled that they should be jointly responsible for the dog, whose name is Panda. Each month, Panda will be transported from one household to the other, giving the dog equal time to spend with each owner. This is a rare outcome in the legal world, as pets are mostly viewed as property rather than living beings. 

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching for a qualified divorce attorney in North Carolina, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We have considerable experience with collaborative law, and this might be an obvious solution if you have concerns about pet custody. In addition, we can help you with virtually every other aspect of your divorce, including child custody, child support, and alimony. We understand that each divorce is unique, and a "cookie-cutter approach" does not take into account important priorities, such as pet ownership. Book your consultation today, and we can help you develop a separation agreement that takes all of these factors into account.