So You are getting divorced, maybe you have kids, maybe you don’t. Maybe your kids are in fact  a 3 year old Springer Spaniel named Duke or an 8 year old Siamese cat named Mr. Mittens.  These pets might be like your children and you want to know what will happen if you get divorced with Mr. Mittens.  Who will get him? will there be Pet Visitation? What do you do with your pet? Well, this can be tricky and a little disturbing for people who view their pets as their children. The cold reality of the law says that pets are
considered property.

There I said it, let the hate email begin! (I’m just kidding, please don’t I’m actually a very pet friendly fellow).

Pets And Divorce

In Minnesota, we have laws to divide property and pets are considered the same as your car or even your bedroom dresser, of course the difference is real to many people, they love their pets and want to spend time with them. One thing to keep in mind is if the pet is “non-marital” property, this means the pet was given to you or if you bought the pet prior to marriage you may have a claim on the pet free and clear.

If Fido isn’t non-marital then what are you options? You can’t divide him in half (at least not without a terrible mess!) Here are few things that I’ve seen done over the years:

  • Go for “custody” of your pet. You actually won’t call it that (as pet custody doesn’t exist in Minnesota) but you could make an argument that you get the animal and your soon to be ex will be compensated for ½ of the value of the critter.
  • Share “custody” of your pet. If you want to, you can agree to work out visitation schedule with your pet. It will be easier to work this out without a judge, rather than going to trial on the issue, be specific and be sure to tell your lawyer this right away.
  • Sell the pet, split the proceeds. Usually, the last resort, but one the Judge has the authority to do.

Every few years the MSBA Animal Law Section tries to rally support to not treat pets as property in the family law world, but so far the reception by the legislature has not been as enthusiastic as it could be. If you are a pet lover I suggest you do contact your legislator and ask them to consider a pets and divorce bill.

There you go, a brief look at how pets factor into a divorce in Minnesota. My suggestion? Try like heck to work it out with your soon to be ex, it will save time, emotional energy and stress on poor Fido.

Information obtained in may contain knowledgable content about Minnesota Family Law that may be considered beneficial to some; however, in no way should this website or its contents be considered legal advice. Mr. Kohlmeyer is a Minnesota licensed Attorney and cannot provide legal services or guidance to those outside of Minnesota. If you wish to retain Mr. Kohlmeyer as your Attorney in your Family Law matter, contact 507-205-9736.