In Missouri, pets are generally considered property when it comes to divorce, which means they are subject to property division laws. Unlike child custody, where the best interests of the child are the primary consideration, pets are treated as assets to be divided between the divorcing spouses. Deciding who gets to keep the pets in a divorce often comes down to negotiations between the spouses or a court’s decision if they cannot agree.
Here are some common approaches to handling pet ownership in a Missouri divorce:
- Mutual Agreement: If both spouses can agree on who should keep the pets, they can include this decision in their divorce settlement agreement. The agreement should specify which spouse will have ownership and responsibility for the pets.
- Value and Compensation: If spouses cannot agree on pet ownership, they may choose to have the pets appraised to determine their monetary value. One spouse may then “buy out” the other’s share of the pets by offering compensation in the division of assets.
- Court Decision: If spouses cannot reach an agreement, they may ask the court to decide who gets to keep the pets. The court may consider various factors, including who primarily cared for the pets, who has the ability to provide proper care, and other relevant circumstances.
- Shared Custody: In some cases, couples may decide to share custody of their pets, with a visitation schedule and responsibilities for the pets outlined in their divorce agreement. While shared pet custody is not common, it can be a solution that works for some couples.
It’s important to note that Missouri law does not specifically address pet custody or ownership, so decisions are often made based on the couple’s agreement or, if necessary, a court’s determination. Courts may treat pets like any other marital property, but they may also consider the well-being of the animals involved.
If you are facing a divorce and have concerns about pet ownership, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney who can help you understand your options and guide you through the legal process, including addressing the issue of pet ownership. Additionally, couples may consider mediation or collaborative divorce processes to work together in resolving pet-related matters in a less adversarial manner.
At Raza Family Law Solutions, we practice family law effectively guiding clients through prenuptial and post nuptial agreements, dissolution of marriage, modifications of prior judgments, and resolving child custody disputes. We also help families take a different approach to divorce with mediation and collaborative work. Contact us for a consultation at (314) 314-5505.