Pet Custody

Due to the fact that many people cultivate a profound relationship with their pets and consider them to be a vital part of their family, the question of which spouse gets to keep the pet after a divorce can be a very controversial topic from a legal standpoint. Because pets are considered property under the law, the state of New Mexico does not have any laws pertaining to “custody” for animals, in contrast to the rules that govern children.

If a couple is unable to agree on who should have custody of the family pet, the courts would typically give the animal to the person in the couple who was the primary caregiver for the animal during the marriage. If there are children involved who have a close relationship with the pet, the judge may decide to give the pet to the spouse who will have primary custody of the children in order to preserve the continuity of that relationship for the children.

If one of the parties to the marriage owned the pet before to the marriage, then it is likely that the court will give possession of the pet to that same party. However, there are certain courts that have a greater awareness of the special relationship that exists between a pet and its owners and may take into consideration which spouse has the strongest emotional ties to the animal in question. 

On the other hand, in order to determine which partner will be awarded custody of the pet, some courts may require merely evidence of the origin and date of payment for the animal. The courts will consider the animal to be community property if it was purchased by either spouse during the course of the marriage. This implies that the pet will be subject to being divided in a manner that is fair to both parties.

The following considerations are taken into account by the courts when determining which partner should be granted ownership of a pet:

  • Who of the partners was the original buyer of the pet?
  • Which partner is responsible for the costs associated with the pet?
  • How much the animal should be valued at?
  • Whether or whether the animal was a present?
  • Which of the spouses does the pet spend the majority of its time with?

 Disputes over the ownership of a pet can also be resolved outside of a trial setting. For instance, if a married couple decides that they want to take turns caring for their pet, they can write up a custody agreement that specifies when and where each person is allowed to have the animal. Some couples may come to an agreement that allows one spouse to pay the other to give up their claim to the animal in exchange for financial compensation.

Skilled Lawyers

We are aware that agreements in divorce proceedings that involve pets is almost never simple. Throughout the entirety of the legal process, our staff is here to offer you the trustworthy and efficient guidance you require in order to ensure that your best interests are safeguarded at all times.

You may schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys in New Mexico  by giving us a call at (505) 880-8737 or contacting us on our website.