Who gets the Family Pet in a Minnesota Divorce?

Divorcing Family with Family Pet
Who gets the family pet in a Minnesota Divorce?

Unfortunately in some divorces the couple will fight over everything, including the family pet.  In other divorces, the pet may hold sentimental value for one or both of the couple.  So who gets the family pet in a divorce? 

How the Law Treats the Family Pet

First off, a pet is legally considered personal property.  A pet is under the legal control of its owner.  A pet can conceivably have financial value, like a purebred used for breeding for example.  However more typically, the value is sentimental.  

A pet, of course, can’t be divided like other property.  There is also no such thing as pet “custody” comparable to child custody.  However, it is possible, by agreement, for a couple to agree on who has the pet either totally or in a timeshare type arrangement.

Courts can’t quantify the value of a pet compared to other property, typically. There are no “pet” statutes for a Court to consider, other than the overly general property statute.  However, a Court may consider:

  • When children are involved, if one parent has the children more and the children have a close bond with the pet.
  • Whether one parent works long hours away from home and would  be unable to routinely care for the pet.
  • What spouse keeps the family home, presumably more familiar to the family pet.
  • If one spouse is more attached to the pet and the other appears to be arguing only to be spiteful.
  • Who paid for the pet, as well as who routinely cared for the pet. 
  • Which spouse is better able to take financial care of the pet.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.