The National Pet Owners Survey reports that sixty-three percent of households in the United States own pets. Pets play an important role in the lives of many individuals in the state of Oklahoma. It is common for couples to argue about the ownership of a pet during the separation. In a divorce, however, the issue of who has ownership of pets can be particularly complicated. In many cases, former spouses must decide ownership of a pet because courts in Oklahoma will not grant visitation schedules for pets. As a result, for individuals who would like to retain rights to a pet after a divorce, it is a wise idea to retain the assistance of a skilled attorney.
Applicable Law Regarding Ownership of Pets
While many couples view pets as family members, courts analyze ownership of pets using traditional property law. A court will determine when a pet was acquired and this time period will influence who owns the pet. If the pet was acquired before the marriage, courts often rule that the pet should remain with the original owner. If a pet was acquired during a marriage, the court will be more uncertain in its ruling. One fact that might influence the decision of who is granted ownership of the pet is if the couple has any children. In other cases, if the pet was a gift from one spouse to the other, the spouse who received the pet as a gift will be allowed to keep the pet after the divorce. Because there is no established law on who should retain ownership of a pet, in many situations ownership of a pet must be resolved between the divorcing spouses.
Advice on How to Make the Divorce Process Easiest for the Pet
If pets are involved, the divorce process should be made as easy on the pet as possible. Too much stress has been known to cause adverse health conditions in a pet. The Humane Society reports that there are several signs of distressed pets including decreased appetite, sleeping a lot, not being interested in daily activities, frequent whimpering, excessive self-grooming, and the increase of accidents that the pet has at home. To decrease the amount of stress placed on a pet, it is wise to follow some important pieces of advice:
- If there are multiple pets involved and the pets are bonded to one another, it is often a wise idea to keep the pets together and grant ownership to just one of the former spouses.
- In a large number of cases, a pet should go where the child or children in the divorce go. This often means that pets will remain in the family.
- Make sure that a pet is frequently taken to the veterinarian to remain up to date about the pet’s medical health.
Retain the Services of an Experienced Oklahoma Divorce Attorney
If you are involved in the divorce process and live in Oklahoma, there are many complicated issues that can arise including debates about which spouse has the rights to pets after the divorce. While the decision about ownership of a pet can be particularly stressful, an experienced attorney like Jim A. Lyon can help in these cases. Contact Attorney Lyon for assistance today.