A Reliable Partner. An Experienced Adviser.

Photo of Ira C. Yellin

What happens to your shared pets in a Massachusetts divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2022 | Divorce

In Massachusetts, spouses share whatever they accumulate or purchase during their marriage. Those belongings can lead to complications during divorce, especially if either spouse has an emotional attachment to specific assets.

Many couples will eventually adopt or purchase a pet together. Whether you have a pure-blooded Maine Coon cat or a rescue dog of indeterminate breed, your pet may be one of the most important things that you share with your spouse. Both of you may care for it and love to spend time with it every day.

What will happen to your pets when you get divorced?

Massachusetts considers pets a kind of personal property

You may think of your pets as essentially your children, but legally they are possessions. The Massachusetts courts will not treat animals like children and hear a contested case involving pet custody.

Instead, they will treat the animal as a mere possession. The pet will have a fixed financial value, and that value will influence the division of other property in the divorce.

If you have strong feelings about what happens to your pet, you may want to negotiate a resolution about the animal with your ex outside of court. In an uncontested divorce, the two of you can set your own arrangements, including a situation where you share access to and time with your pet. If you have children, the animal may go back and forth between households with the kids.

Understanding what is possible in a litigated Massachusetts divorce and what you can achieve in your own settlement can help you make the best decisions at the end of your marriage.