Divorce and Pets: What Happens to Fido in a Maryland Divorce?

By September 26, 2019 Agreements, Divorce
pet custody in Maryland, dog custody, cat custody, divorce,

Although your pet is a living, breathing member of your family, in most states, including Maryland, pets are considered property. This means that either you become your pet’s sole owner, or your spouse does. This can be disappointing news to a pet owner who is in the midst of a divorce.

However, some courts are beginning to recognize that the relationship someone has with this particular form of property known as the family cat, dog, bird etc., is much different from their relationship with other forms of property (i.e. car, cell phone, couch, etc.).

Even though Maryland still considers pets property, if you and your spouse agree to share pet custody, Jacobson Family Law can prepare a Marital Separation Agreement that incorporates you and your spouses’ agreeable terms. If you and your spouse don’t agree, however, that’s when things get trickier.

For trickier situations, a few pieces of documentation that will come in handy to prove you are the owner or that your pet is better off with you are as follows:

  • Keep proof of ownership or adoption documentation handy to show that you are your pet’s registered owner.
  • Vet receipts or other documentation showing that you were the one who took your pet to the vet all, or most of, the time.
  • Pet store receipts that show you were the one who bought your pet’s food, toys, etc.
  • Any evidence you can find that you were the one who took your pet to training classes, puppy playtime, etc.
  • Pictures of you and your pet together.
  • Where the kids are going to live and their attachment to the pet.
  • Evidence that you will be able to provide a home for your pet after your divorce (if you rent an apartment, you may need to prove that your lease allows pets).
  • Evidence that your work schedule provides you with enough time to care for your pet.

Losing your pet in a divorce can be heartbreaking. If you are going through a separation or divorce and have questions regarding pet ownership or pet custody, contact Jacobson Family Law at 443-741-1147 or Schedule an Appointment.