Minnesota's Family Law Blog

Pets And Divorce in Minnesota

Image of Dog deciding where to go in a divorce.

Pets During Divorce!

So You are getting divorced, what do you do with the pets during a divoce? 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.

Pets are such an impotant part of people’s live they often are thought of as almost children and you want to know what will happen if you get divorced with Mr. Mittens. Who will get him?

Where will they go? Is there such a thing as Pet Visitation or shared custody? Keep reading and I’ll answer your pet family law questions!

When it comes to navigating the tricky waters of divorce in Minnesota, the statutes that come into play are detailed in Minnesota Statutes 518. These laws meticulously outline how assets should be divided when a couple decides to part ways. However, when we turn our attention to the subject of pets and how they’re treated in these situations, the outlook becomes somewhat less clear-cut.

In the eyes of Minnesota law, family pets are categorized similarly to inanimate objects—comparable to household items like televisions, sofas, or even vehicles. This legal stance categorizes pets as a marital asset or personal property, which can be a hard pill to swallow for many.

This classification might come as a shock, especially to those of us who are pet parents. For many, pets are not just animals; they are integral members of the family, offering companionship, love, and emotional support. The thought of treating them the same as a piece of furniture is unthinkable. It’s not just about who gets the coffee maker; it’s about ensuring the well-being of a beloved creature who has become a central part of your life.

Despite the stark legal perspective, there’s a silver lining for pet lovers going through a divorce. If your pet is considered “non-marital” property, you might be in a stronger position than you think.

“Non-marital” property refers to assets that were acquired by one party before the marriage or were given as a personal gift. If you brought your pet into the marriage or it was gifted specifically to you, the law may favor your sole ownership after the divorce. This is a crucial consideration for anyone hoping to secure their relationship with their pet post-divorce.

Understanding the distinction between marital and non-marital property is key in these scenarios. If you’re navigating a divorce and hoping to keep your pet, delving into the specifics of what constitutes non-marital property can offer a glimmer of hope. It’s a complex area of law, but understanding it can be crucial for those who consider their pets to be much more than just property. Pets provide love and support, so it’s worth fighting emotionally and legally to keep them.

In summary, while Minnesota’s divorce laws might lump pets together with other household items in terms of property, there’s a deeper emotional dynamic at play for many individuals. Pets hold a unique place in our hearts and homes, making the legal discourse surrounding their custody during divorces a highly sensitive and important matter. For those facing this challenge, understanding the nuances of marital vs. non-marital property can be a vital step in ensuring that the bond with their furry, feathered, or scaled companions continues unbroken.

Pets and Divorce – The Law

When it comes to pets and divorce, it’s not uncommon for folks to wonder, “What’s the legal stance on our furry friends?” or is Pet Custody a thing? The quick answer? The law doesn’t directly address it. Specifically, in Minnesota, there’s no statute that outright mentions pets in the context of divorce or stipulates that they can be included in a visitation order like children. This might sound a bit surprising, considering how integral pets are to many families.

About a decade ago, the Minnesota State Bar Association recognized this gap and stepped up. They proposed several ideas aimed at how pets should be considered during the divorce process. It wasn’t just about who gets the dog or the cat; it was about acknowledging pets as more than just property. They embarked on an educational mission, targeting judges and legal professionals, to highlight the importance of pets in families going through a split.

The efforts of the State Bar Association have made a noticeable impact. There’s been a shift in how pets are perceived in the context of divorce. It’s become relatively common for pets to be included in mediation agreements. Additionally, it’s not unheard of for courts to be asked to issue orders regarding the custody or division of pets. This change in approach reflects a broader understanding that pets truly are part of the family.

Since there aren’t any laws on caring for the pet or a pet custody arrangment, it really comes down to common sense and since MInnesota is a equitable distribution state (meaning it has to be a fair division of assets) you can argue that you were the pet owner who really deserves Fido!

This evolution in legal practices around pets and divorce is a testament to the changing world of family and property law. It acknowledges the deep emotional bonds between humans and their pets, and the role pets play in our lives. As such, discussions about pets during divorce proceedings have moved beyond mere property division to considerations of well-being for all involved—humans and animals alike.

Some Solutions For Animals During A Divorce

If your furry buddy Fido wasn’t just yours before you got married, figuring out what to do with him in a divorce might seem tricky. It’s not like you can just split him down the middle—that would be a disaster! But don’t worry, there are a few paths I’ve seen divorcing couples take over the years to sort things out:

1.Try to keep your pet. Now, we don’t exactly call it “custody” since that’s not a legal thing for pets here in Minnesota. But you can argue that you should be the one to keep your animal friend. After all the Judge will make an order if you ask her to! The beloved pet does have to go somewhere!

TIP: make a cash offer for the pet! Maybe your soon-to-be ex can be okay with getting some money for their share of what the pet’s worth, if the amoutn is to high or she won’t agree, then it can go to the judge.

2.Share your pet. Joint ownership of the pet is actuallyan option! If both of you are really attached to your pet, you might consider agreeing on a schedule for who gets to spend time with the pet when. It’s way better to figure this out yourselves than to have a judge decide. Make sure you tell your Divorce attorney you want to try this, so you can include it in your plans and you can often deal with it during your mediation!

TIP: Be VERY specfic on what you want to for pet visitation, if you aren’t specific you might keep getting in arguments in the future which really is not the point of being divorced! you’re supposed to be done arguhing with each other!

3.As a last resort, selling your pet. Nobody likes this option, but it’s always an option. If you sell the pet, you and your ex can split the money. It’s something the judge can suggest if nothing else works out.

The group that looks out for animals in legal stuff, the MSBA Animal Law Section, tries every few years to get the laws changed so pets aren’t just seen as stuff you own in divorce cases. But it’s been tough getting lawmakers on board. If you love pets and think they should be treated better in divorces, reaching out to your state lawmaker could help make a change.

In short, pets in divorces can be a bit complicated in Minnesota. My best advice? Do everything you can to work it out with the person you’re splitting from. It’s way easier and usually ends up better for your pet if you both can agree on what’s best for them, rather than having a judge decide.

Diving into mankatofamilylaw.com, you’re gonna find a treasure trove of insights on Minnesota Family Law. It’s a goldmine for those hungry for knowledge! But let’s be clear: what you read on the site is not the same as getting personalized advice from a legal pro. That’s where Jason comes into the picture. He’s your go-to guy for family law matters in Minnesota. If you’re outside the Land of 10,000 Lakes, though, you’ll need to find someone else, we only talk Minnesota Family Law here.. Just remember, the website’s a great resource, but there’s nothing like having an actual lawyer by your side.

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