In most families today, when you have a pet, they are considered and treated like part of the family. They travel with the family, provide love and support for you, and even may help in teaching your children compassion and empathy. Recent psychological studies have proven that the loss of a beloved pet due to death (or other reasons like divorce) can cause you as much grief as that of a close loved one.

In the Indiana courts, however, animals are considered to be property, like furniture and cars. This notion sounds inhumane and ludicrous to most pet owners, though, and recently the question of pet custody has been a frequently discussed legal topic. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has stated that they have seen a huge increase in pet custody cases over the last 15 years. A few states, like Alaska, have passed groundbreaking legislation allowing joint custody of pets and demands that the well being of the animal is taken into consideration. The trend seems to be that the status of your pet in a divorce case is rising and becoming similar to child custody.

If your pet is involved in your divorce, you need to let your Lake County or Indiana family law attorney know and fully discuss how you want to approach the matter. The wellbeing of your pets, as well as your own wellbeing, demand that this subject be given special and unique discussion. Going through a divorce is difficult enough without the loss of a beloved pet!

How Do You Establish The Value Of A Pet In A Divorce?

If you are a loving pet owner, having the Indiana court deal with your pet like a lamp, piece of furniture, or car can be very difficult to handle. In some cases, though, a purebred animal that is used for breeding purposes, and who may win prizes in competitions, do have a serious dollar value. Your love and attachment to your pet may mean much more than their financial value, but this monetary detail has to be resolved.

We’re not only talking about dogs or cats (who can fit into this description) but horses and other animals whose value can be thousands of dollars. Your family law attorney needs to know your stance on this, and then negotiate how the finances involved have to be dealt with.

Another point that may help you is determining who has been responsible for your pet. If you and your ex-partner cannot decide on custody, then the court will. You now know that there are no Indiana laws that cover this, but most judges will take into account who is more able to care for the animal.

Some of the points that will be discussed are:

  • That you provide for the daily care of your pet, such as feeding, walking, bathing, etc.
  • That you pay for the veterinary care of your pet if they are ill.
  • That you are the one that takes the pet to the vet.
  • That you have a plan to make sure your pet is taken care of if you are out of town or away for periods.

Although several states have passed legislation for the protection and custody of pets, Indiana is not one of them but may become one over time. Your pet is a living being that gets anxious, fearful, and gives and receives love, so it is up to your Lake County family law attorney to show the court they deserve empathy and serious consideration.

What Can I Do to Keep my Pet in a Divorce in Indiana?

In Indiana, more and more divorcing cases are arguing about who gets the family pet. Some couples are agreeing to a pet visitation schedule similar to a child visitation schedule. This can be a great compromise if you and your spouse can work together in changes of “custody”, trips to the vet, financial care, etc. Many couples who are going through a divorce (especially if they don’t have any children) don’t want to be tied to their ex for the rest of the pet’s life and would prefer to have them all to themselves. You and your ex-partner must agree on this or the Indiana courts will.

Fighting over who will get to keep a pet at the end of a marriage is mentally, emotionally, and even financially draining. A much better method to get ahead of this issue is through the preparation of a prenuptial agreement before getting married. This may seem extreme, but prenuptial agreements are more and more common, and if your pet is that important to you, they should be included in it. This may seem to be “after the fact” at this time, but it is one more reason prenuptial agreements are made. If you are not yet married, and your pet is a beloved member of your life, it might be a reason to consider a Prenup.

If a prenuptial agreement was not done in your marriage, then discuss entering another agreement in your divorce settlement that specifically addresses your pet. If your pet means a great deal to you, as they do to most people, this part of your divorce demands to be given the detailed attention it deserves. Your Merrillville family law attorney will make sure that your divorce terms state your feelings and concern for your pet. Only you and your lawyer can make sure your pet is assured of the love and care they deserve.