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Who Gets the Dog/Cat in a New Jersey Divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2023 | Divorce

Pets are incredibly important to most families, and they often play vital roles. Dogs and cats can provide us with the emotional support that is often needed during a divorce. In addition, the act of caring for a pet gives us a sense of structure and responsibility that can fill our lives with meaning and purpose – even when all seems lost. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that many spouses are willing to fight tooth and nail to retain ownership of their pets. But how exactly is this situation handled in New Jersey, and how can you walk away with your animal?


Your first step should be to get in touch with a divorce attorney in New Jersey. Our legal professionals can answer any questions you might have about property division, custody, or any other divorce-related subject. With our assistance, you can strive for the best results and end your divorce with a sense of confidence. It is best to book your consultation with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible if you know you are facing a divorce.

Pets are Considered Property

First of all, you should know that pets are considered “property” in the eyes of family courts in New Jersey. While this might seem a little heartless, it is the only real way to approach this situation logically. In this context, pets cannot be viewed in the same way as humans because they cannot express opinions. We also cannot view them in the same way as children, because we know more about a child’s psychological well-being and best interests.

So, what does this all mean? If pets are viewed as property, it means that their distribution will be handled according to New Jersey’s “equitable distribution” system. While it is true that your pet will be handled in the same basic manner as a chair or a rug, the court will still take several “human” factors into account when determining who should take ownership of the animal.

For example, if one spouse purchased the animal before the marriage, then it is automatically considered their “separate” property. In addition, spouses who inherit animals from past loved ones can keep their pets as a matter of course, since this is also considered “separate property.” Finally, spouses who receive pets as gifts can keep the animals. This is because gifts are also considered “separate property” – even if the donor was the other spouse.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in New Jersey, look no further than Giro, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Over the years, we have assisted numerous injured plaintiffs in New Jersey – including those who have concerns about pet custody following a separation. We know that even the smallest issues can be of tremendous importance for divorcing spouses, and we’re ready to help you cover all your bases. Book your consultation as soon as possible, and you can get started with an effective action plan right away.