When it comes to a separation, most couples have a bone to pick over what to do with their pets. For many people, their pets are akin to having children and are a beloved part of the family. However, while Fido or Fluffy may be family in your eyes, pets acquired after the marriage are viewed as marital property when it comes to divorce in North Carolina, which can create a hairy situation.
In dividing marital assets and debts among a divorcing couple, North Carolina follows the presumption that an equal distribution is the most equitable solution. Through the equitable distribution process, the marital assets are valued and divided between the parties until each has received an equal portion of the marital estate. In this case, pets are no different from your bank account, jewelry, or the house. The pet is valued based on the replacement cost to acquire a pet that is of similar breed, age, and condition. The pet will then be given to one spouse and the other spouse will be given the offset cost of the pet.
Understandably, for many the thought of giving their pet to a former spouse makes one’s claws come out. A fetching resolution that more divorcing couples are turning to is setting up a custody or visitation arrangement within their separation agreement that dictates the custody of the pet, responsibility for care, and sharing of expenses. If you have minor children, a more purr-fect solution may be to have the pet custody agreement mirror the custody arrangement for the children. This type of arrangement provides a fair resolution, but more importantly provides children with companionship and normalcy while transitioning into the custodial arrangement.
Trying to sniff out a resolution for a pet’s disposition can makes some couples argue like cats and dogs. However, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney, like those at Lake Norman Law Firm, can help muzzle the arguing and protect your rights and interests in your pets.
If you are contemplating divorce and want to know your rights when it comes to pet custody, trust the attorneys at Lake Norman Law Firm to provide you with Smart Honest Legal Advice.