As February is National Guide Dog Month, we thought it would be fitting to talk about a source of stress that many customers may be hesitant to bring up. They are concerned that their ex-spouse may be awarded “custody” of their dog, and they don’t know what to do about it.
Animals such as dogs, cats, and other critters are more than just pets; they are members of your family. Yes, we get it. The law, however, takes a different view, so here is what you need to know to “divorce-proof” your dog.
Animals in the care of humans are considered personal property. Conforming to the Rules
The law views your dog the same way it does your dishes or sofa. No one can petition the court for custody. Instead, your pet is a property that must be divided upon divorce.
When getting a divorce in Ohio, only marital property is subject to the standard equal/equitable split. Separate property is a property that you and your spouse do not share under the law and that you get to keep if you get a divorce. In that case, you won’t have to worry about giving up your dog if the courts recognize him as your personal property.
In the event that efforts to mediate a dispute outside of court are unsuccessful, you may consult with Ohio high asset divorce attorney about the various legal options.
The Best Way to Prove That Your Dog Really Is Yours
Marital property in Ohio includes anything either spouse owned before or during the marriage. Your four-legged pet, like any assets you possessed prior to getting married, will be considered separate property.
It is common for one spouse to claim ownership of any assets received as a gift or inheritance. An increase in the value of separate property throughout the marriage may be considered marital property if the growth is the result of one or both spouses’ efforts. This is often referred to as “active” admiration. Appreciation that occurs “passively,” or as a result of pure market forces, is often treated as a distinct asset.
It’s best to head off potential issues by planning beforehand.
If you want to make sure that your dog stays with you after a divorce, it’s advisable to have a prenuptial agreement drawn up that makes it clear that the dog will always be your property. A cohabitation agreement can protect the property of unmarried couples who are living together.
Postnuptial agreements are not recognized by Ohio law at present, although this may change in the near future.