Who Gets Custody of a Pet in an Ohio Divorce, Dissolution or Separation?

Custody of Pet in OhioIn Ohio, married couples divorce and people living together separate every day.   Particular property divisions can be handled easily, while some are more difficult.  Real estate, vehicles, appliances and child-visitation are among the most difficult issues for separating parties to handle.  However, couples without children would probably argue that family pets should be added to that equation.  Recently, there have been more reports of contentious battles over who gets the family pet.  The question quickly becomes:  What happens when a pet is jointly owned by a married couple or roommates that decide they can no longer live together?

Unfortunately for Ohioans who want to treat their pet as a member of the family, the answer is simple.  Ohio law views animals as personal property, and not as a “physical-being”, akin to a child.  Therefore, chances that you will get visitation rights awarded by an Ohio Court are not good.  However, the determination does not end there.  If you are embroiled in a battle over a pet,  you can show certain facts that will help a court rule in your favor with respect to custody of the pet.

First, and probably the most basic fact an individual can show is that they bought or adopted the pet.  It is also important to show that you were the main caregiver for the animal.  This can be supported by receipts for grooming, food, veterinary bills and vaccinations.  You can also bring in evidence of the fact that you were the party that bathed, walked and played with the animal – perhaps a neighbor or family member can testify to that fact.  Physical living conditions are also a consideration.  Do you have children?  Are you going to have a big yard or a small apartment?  Will you be working throughout the day and not be able to spend time with the pet?

The good news is that while Ohio law still recognizes a pet as personal property, some courts across the country have begun giving animals an elevated status above basic personal property.  If you’re dealing with a contentious divorce or dissolution, do not attack property divisions alone.  For specific legal advice about a divorce or dissolution or to speak to a divorce lawyer experienced in Ohio, contact the law offices of Slater and Zurz LLP at 1-888-760-8958.  You can also contact us through our website:  dissolutionanddivorce.com.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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3 Comments on “Who Gets Custody of a Pet in an Ohio Divorce, Dissolution or Separation?”

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