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Fate of the family pet can be a property division sticking point

Nearly two thirds of all households have a family pet. When a divorce looms, the fate of that family pet can be a sticking point in the process. While many families in Missouri do not consider the family pet property, that pet will be dealt with as part of a property division decision in all likelihood. While views over how pets are seen may be changing, the law still regards them as property, and there are some tips below for those who have a pet that will part of a divorce settlement.

Anyone dealing with a pet as part of a divorce needs to have a full picture of the costs associated with that pet. This can include the money it takes to feed, walk and attend to the health needs of the pet. The reality of the expenses can make pet ownership or custody something that needs to be negotiated. Also, emotional attachment can lead to that pet being a bargaining chip of sorts.

Devising a separate or private agreement regarding sharing a pet is one trend that seems to be growing. This can entail breaking down the times each person has with the pet and outlining shared responsibilities. Additionally, the parties involved may need to work out when and how trade-offs will be made as some people may not want to have on-going contact. An intermediary who transports the pet between the parties is one idea.

Each family is different, and no one solution may work for everyone. Just as with a custody agreement, any property division agreement that involves the fate of a pet will require individual attention. Missouri couples will certainly want to discuss how much of the agreement can be handled by a legal representative and what details may need to be ironed out before anyone has a final say over what becomes of this valued member of the family.

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

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