Some property in divorces becomes a focal point of litigation or negotiations because it is valuable. People go toe-to-toe over family businesses and real estate. Other assets lead to intense fighting because they have emotional value rather than financial value.
Your family pet is a perfect example. The dog that you and your children love is likely also very important to your spouse. What will happen with your pets in a New Hampshire divorce?
You can reach your own arrangements
As with most other aspects of a divorce, you have the option of cooperating with your ex. If the two of you agree in writing on property division or custody matters, you can set whatever terms you think are fair and appropriate.
For a pet, that might include a visitation or custody schedule that may mirror the schedule you keep for your children. You don’t necessarily have to worry as much about the rules for New Hampshire divorces if you reach your own settlement. However, if you can’t find an agreeable solution, then your only option will be to litigate.
What will a judge do with your family pet?
In New Hampshire, state divorce law now explicitly references pets or companion animals. During property division proceedings, the pet does have a fixed value and will be part of the property division settlement.
However, the judge should consider what would be best for the pet when deciding who will keep the animal. Although a judge is unlikely to commit the necessary time and effort it would take to establish a shared pet custody schedule, they may consider your pre-existing relationship and work schedules, as well as the custody of your children, when deciding what would be right for your pet in your divorce.
If you have to go to court and want to keep the pet, gathering evidence of your relationship with the animal, your availability and your commitment to its happiness could help you convince a judge that you would make it happier. If you can’t settle the matter outside of court, however, you have to prepare to accept the ruling a judge enters on this very emotional matter.
Learning more about the rules that apply to New Hampshire divorces and specific choices you must make during that process will facilitate a smoother dissolution.