Like many Arizonans, you share your life with a furry friend or two. This makes sense, as there are many benefits to owning a dog. If you and your spouse are heading for divorce, you may not mind giving up the car, furniture or artwork. You may not even object to dividing cash, investment property or retirement funds. When it comes to the dog, though, the story may be entirely different.
In Arizona, spouses keep separate property and divide marital property equally. Therefore, if you owned your dog before you walked down the aisle, there is a good chance that you can keep it. If you and your spouse acquired the dog together, however, you probably both own an equal interest in the animal. Fortunately, you likely have some options for addressing ownership after your divorce.
Pets are property
Before formulating a plan for keeping your pet, you must realize that animals are property under Arizona law. Still, your dog may not be a particularly valuable piece of property. For example, if your pet is a rescue animal, it may not have much monetary worth. On the other hand, if you have a pedigreed dog, your animal may be a valuable marital asset. Either way, assigning a monetary value to your pet may become important.
Visitation arrangements have no legal basis
If you have children, a judge has the authority to decide visitation. That is not the case with companion animals, unfortunately. Instead, your pet likely must go to either you or your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. As such, you probably have an incentive to negotiate an agreement about pet ownership. Giving up other assets to keep your pet may be a successful strategy.
You probably view your dog as an important member of your family. Your pet may also be a precious friend. Still, because your animal may be a marital asset, knowing what is likely happen to it after your divorce may put your mind at ease.