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Mississippi law treats pets as property in divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2022 | Divorce |

Most Mississippi pet owners might agree that they consider their dogs, cats or other pets as members of their family.  Anyone who has ever experienced the death of a beloved pet understands how emotionally traumatic it can be. If a spouse files for divorce, disputes may arise regarding who gets to keep a pet.  

A family court judge typically makes decisions regarding pets as part of property division proceedings. In a pet owner’s mind, it may seem more like a custody matter; however, that is not usually how it is handled by law. Keeping several things in mind may help keep pet-related stress to a minimum in a divorce.  

Is the pet mentioned in a prenuptial agreement? 

Some people enter marriage with a pet in tow. Perhaps a spouse has had a dog or cat for years and naturally intends to bring it into the marital household. Typically, but not always, the pet would be considered the separate property of the person who owned it before the marriage. In such cases, a prenuptial agreement can be signed to state that the spouse to whom the pet belongs will retain ownership of the pet if the marriage were to end in divorce.  

Other issues that are relevant to pets in a divorce 

Whichever spouse’s name is on most of the veterinary bills may influence the court’s decision as to who should keep the pet after divorce. As with custody issues, if spouses can cooperate and compromise, there is less likely to be trouble during proceedings. For instance, if the pet in question favors one spouse over the other, it may make sense for the favored spouse to keep the pet. A concerned spouse who has questions about pets in a divorce may want to meet with an experienced family law attorney before heading to court to discuss the issue.