Breaking up with a partner can be a challenging and emotionally draining process. When a beloved pet is involved, it can add another layer of complexity to an already difficult situation. Many couples who own a pet together share a deep attachment to their furry friend, and determining who will take custody can be an arduous task. Regardless of whether you and your partner are separating amicably or not, deciding on what happens to your dog after a breakup is a decision that should be taken seriously. Here’s what you need to know about how to get “custody” of a dog after a breakup in New Jersey.
Pets As Property
In the state of New Jersey, pets are considered property, similar to a car or piece of furniture. This means that determining ownership of a pet is not the same as deciding custody of a child. The court will not consider the best interests of the pet, as they would with a child custody case.
While it may be tempting to view your pet as a member of your family, in the eyes of the law, they are treated as personal property. The division of property in a divorce proceeding is based on the concept of equitable distribution, which means that property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. In cases where couples cannot come to an agreement about who gets the pet, the court will view the pet as property and will distribute ownership based on equitable distribution principles.
Who Has A Claim to the Animal?
When determining ownership of a pet, the court will look at the same factors used to determine ownership of other property. If the pet was acquired prior to the relationship, it is considered premarital property and belongs to the person who purchased or adopted the pet. However, if the pet was acquired during the relationship, it is considered marital property and ownership will be determined based on the principles of equitable distribution.
Equitable distribution means that property acquired during the marriage is divided fairly. It doesn’t not necessarily mean that each spouse will walk away from the marriage with an equal number of assets. In determining ownership of a pet, the court may consider factors such as who primarily cares for the pet, who pays for the pet’s expenses, and who has a stronger emotional attachment to the pet.
If you are looking to get custody of a dog after a breakup, the first step is to determine whether the dog is premarital or marital property. If the dog is premarital property, it is yours and you have the right to keep it. However, if the dog is marital property, you will need to negotiate with your ex-partner or go to court to determine ownership.
Sharing Ownership of Your Per
One option for negotiating pet custody is to create a pet custody agreement. This agreement is a legal document that outlines each party’s rights and responsibilities regarding the pet, including custody, visitation, and financial support. This type of agreement can be helpful in avoiding a court battle and allowing both parties to have a say in the care of the pet.
To create a pet custody agreement, both parties should first agree on a custody schedule that works for everyone involved. This could mean sharing custody on a week-by-week basis or having one person take primary custody while the other has visitation rights. The agreement should also address financial responsibilities, such as veterinary bills and food costs.
There are many online resources for pet custody agreement forms, or you can consult with a divorce lawyer for men who can help you create a customized agreement that meets your specific needs.
Going to Court for Pet Custody
If negotiating a pet custody agreement is not possible, you may need to go to court to determine ownership. In New Jersey, you can file a lawsuit in small claims court for property valued at less than $3,000, which may include a pet. For higher value property, such as purebred dogs or pets with special training, you may need to file a lawsuit in regular court.
When going to court to determine pet custody, it is important to provide evidence of your ownership and care for the pet. This could include veterinary records, receipts for pet expenses, and witness testimony from friends and family who can attest to your relationship with the pet.
In some cases, the court may order joint custody of the pet. This means that both parties have equal rights to the pet and must come to an agreement on custody and care. Joint custody can be challenging and requires open communication and cooperation between both parties.
Divorce Lawyers for Pet Custody Disputes
While dealing with pet custody after a breakup or divorce can be challenging, it is important to remember that pets are considered property in New Jersey. The determination of ownership of a pet can be complicated, especially if it is considered premarital property. However, creating a shared custody plan for your pet can be a mutually beneficial solution for both parties involved.
It is important to work with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce lawyer who can guide you through the legal process of pet custody. At The Micklin Law Group, we understand the emotional bond that exists between pets and their owners. Our team of skilled attorneys has extensive experience in family law matters, including pet custody cases. We will work with you to develop a comprehensive pet custody agreement that considers your individual needs and the best interests of your pet. We also offer a range of legal services, including mediation and litigation, to help you resolve issues with pet custody.
If you are facing a pet custody dispute, don’t hesitate to contact The Micklin Law Group. We are committed to helping men and fathers in New Jersey achieve favorable outcomes in their family law cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.