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How are pets handled in the property division process?

It may pain you to learn this, but pets are considered personal property in the eyes of the law. This means that they are subject to Connecticut's equitable division laws and it will be up to the court to determine who gets the family pets in a divorce.

While this comes as a horrific surprise to many divorcing couples, it makes sense if you look at it more objectively. If pets were subject to the same laws that govern child custody, family law courts would be completely overwhelmed. Handling pets as property frees up the court system and allows divorces and other family law matters to proceed more efficiently.

If you are getting a divorce and want to keep your family pets, you are not completely without options. One of the best ways to approach pet custody is to come to an agreement over the pets with your spouse. If you and your spouse are able to reach this agreement and as long as it falls within the law, a judge might agree to include the agreement in your court order.

If you and your spouse are unable to agree about the pets, it could be worth the effort to talk with your attorney about the matter. A lawyer can often help you negotiate with your spouse, making it possible to create a pet custody and visitation plan. An attorney may also be able to recommend other solutions such as mediation or another form of dispute resolution.

At the very least, it is important to pursue a legal solution if you want to continue caring for your pets after divorce. A family law attorney can assist you in finding a remedy that meets your family's needs.

Source: Connecticut General Assembly, "Pet Custody After Divorce," accessed May 01, 2017

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