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Determining pet ownership during a divorce

When couples in New Hampshire decide to end their marriage, there are several decisions that must be made. One of the more difficult issues may be to decide who will get the family pet. As approximately 80 million households in this country have a pet, this is a question that many families likely face. Although many couples view their family pet as a member of their family, divorce courts typically view them as property.

Who will get the pet often becomes a contentious issue during negotiations. In some cases, pets are used as a bargaining chip. This could be especially true for couples who have chosen to delay having children, as is an increasing trend.

When it comes to property division, which pets typically fall under, judges have a great deal of discretion. If those interested in fighting for a family dog can prove they paid for the pet and veterinary visits with money they earned,  they might have a stronger claim. In many cases, couples can create their own agreement outside of court in which the former couple will share custody of the pet. Courts, however, may or may not take these agreements seriously.

When it comes to a divorce, couples must decide how certain items will be divided. Unfortunately, decisions must be made regarding pets as well, with consideration to the time and expense a pet often requires. For a pet owner in New Hampshire committed to keeping his or her pet, there are certain arguments that could be made to strengthen a claim.

Source:, "In divorce, who gets to keep the family dog?", Ben Steverman, May 1, 2016

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