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Family law doesn't see your pets the same way you do

Pet owners have unique bonds with their four-legged friends. They often go to great lengths to make sure that their pets are as happy and healthy as possible, and many even consider them as members of the family. But Alabama family law does not see pets as family members, which can cause a lot of conflict during divorce.

When a couple files for divorce, the law views their pet as property and nothing more. That means that dogs, cats, and other beloved animals are lumped in with things like furniture and household decor during property division. Since couples who get divorced are generally not great at communication and compromise, there is a good chance that many will head to court.

Judges will usually look at a number of different factors when deciding which person will maintain pet ownership. Who originally bought or adopted the pet is a significant piece of information, but it is not necessarily as important a consideration as who actually took care of the pet. Caregiving includes things like taking pets on walks or to the vet. When a divorcing couple has children, it is common for the pet to also be awarded to whichever parent receives primary custody.

There is nothing quite like the companionship of a loyal pet. Instead of compromising that bond, pet owners who are contemplating marriage could consider including provisions on pet ownership in their prenuptial agreement, thereby addressing how they will handle their pets in the event of a divorce. An experienced family law attorney can readily assist those who are engaged to be married in their consideration of such prenuptial matters.

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