Where do the pets go in a divorce?


Let me preface my comment below by saying, “I love animals.”  I grew up with pets, I have pets, I love pets.  Pets are an integral part of one’s family.  In a divorce action, where do the pets go?  The short answer is, and should be, by agreement of the parties.  Yes, I have crafted detailed “parenting plans” and “residential schedules” for Ginger the dog or Wasabi the cat; but, in my experience, these plans or schedules almost always lead to future problems.  And, when asking the Court to enforce such an agreement, you will likely encounter an emphatic, no.  Why?  Well, pets are considered chattels.  In legalese, a “chattel” means “personal property.”  Yes, property.  Despite your love, affection, and bond with your pet, a pet in Washington State is akin to the value of your car or the value of the shirt on your back.  Thus, when going through a divorce, truly consider where your pet will live following a divorce action.  Do you have children?  Who is awarded the family home?  How old is your pet; is he familiar with his surroundings.  Most importantly, agree where your pet will go–sometimes that means letting go.

By Washington State Attorney S. Scott Burkhalter

Beresford Booth PLLC (425.776.4100), www.beresfordlaw.com

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