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How Can I Create a Pet Custody Plan in New Jersey?

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For many, getting a divorce signifies the end of a chapter in their life. Whether you are grieving the end of your marriage or celebrating it, it’s important to understand that your life will change. One thing many people do not take into consideration is what will happen to their pets during these times. Unfortunately, many assume the judge will grant a pet custody plan, which is not the case. However, you and your spouse may create an agreement on how you will care for the animal with the help of a Somerset County divorce attorney. The following blog explores what you should know about these matters.

Will New Jersey Courts Create a Pet Custody Plan?

It’s important to understand that in the eyes of the New Jersey law, pets are not treated as children, but rather as property. This means that you likely will not be able to get a judge to determine “custody” of your pet during your divorce. However, more courts are going to understand the emotional value pets have on lives and may consider that when handling your divorce. Regardless, it’s important to understand that there are no laws in place regarding pets and divorce.

Because your pet is technically property and not treated like a child, it’s important to understand that under New Jersey law, spouses are entitled to equitable distribution of marital property. As such, if you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your shared assets, a judge will consider several factors before dividing property based on each spouse’s contribution to the relationship instead of dividing assets evenly between the parties.

What Can I Do to Create a Plan?

Generally, however, you and your spouse must work together to determine how you will split custody of your pet. This includes examining several factors to determine how you will each spend time and care for the pet. You should consider the following:

  • When you obtained the pet (was it a pet before marriage or adopted after your union?)
  • Who the primary caretaker is (feeding, cleaning, playing, walking)
  • Who is financially responsible for the pet
  • What your living situation is like following the divorce
  • The work demands of both parties involved

If you truly cannot agree on this matter, the court will examine the factors regarding these matters to issue an ultimate decision. While some judges may view the pet as a living being, others may treat the animal as property. As such, it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced lawyer who can fight for your best interest when trying to create a pet custody plan.

At the Siragusa Law Firm, our dedicated legal team understands how important your pet is to you, which is why we are here to guide you through these complex matters. If you’re going through a divorce and worried about what will happen to your furry friend, connect with us today to explore your options.

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