You Keep the Kids, I’ll Take the Dog
Most pet owners, myself included, don’t think of pets as just pets, they think of pets as family. This begs the question, what happens to pets in a divorce?
In Oklahoma, the courts generally try to stay out of this battle if possible. Couples are strongly encouraged to resolve this issue out of court. You might see your pup as your child, but the courts do not. In the rare occasion the courts do get involved, pets are treated like property not people.
As inhumane as this might seem, it does mean that there’s no chance of joint custody. One person gets the pet, and one person doesn’t. However, if you and your former spouse want to work out some sort of shared custody, you certainly can, but the court will make no such arrangement.
If the court is forced to decide who gets the pet, the first thing they’ll want to know is if the pet was bought before or during the marriage. The court tends to grant ownership to the original owner if the pet was purchase before the marriage. Typically, if it was purchased during the marriage the court will give the pet to the person who can best take care of the pet.
Children can also impact the decision. If the court feels the children will suffer additional stress by the separation from the pet, the custodial parent will most likely get the pet.
Although we may treat pets like people, the court sees them as property. When going through a divorce with a mutually loved pet, you need to be ready to deal with the reality of possib