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How Does Pet Custody Work in New Jersey?

Although many consider their furry companions family members, New Jersey law considers them property. There are no laws pertaining to pet custody, meaning the court will include pets in the division of assets in the event of a divorce. However, there is legal precedent for the court to consider the emotional ties and non-monetary value of a pet to each spouse. Please continue reading to learn the key considerations when crafting a pet custody plan in New Jersey and how a proficient Ocean County Divorce Attorney can help guide you through these complex matters. 

Are There Any Laws Surrounding Pet Custody in New Jersey?

Unlike other states, New Jersey has not enacted legislation surrounding pet custody. As such, pets are considered property and are subject to equitable distribution during a separation. When it comes to the division of assets, any assets gained during a marriage are subject to equitable distribution. This means if you owned the pet before the marriage, you would remain the sole owner of the pet after the divorce. However, if you adopt or purchase the pet after you get hitched, things get more complicated.

If you want to be the sole owner of the pet following the divorce, you must provide the court with substantial evidence that you spend the most money and time caring for the animal. This may include credit card statements demonstrating you bought the pet’s supplies and paid for vet appointments. It’s also essential to document how much time you have spent with the pet. Any pictures or videos you have of them taking walks or going to the park can support your claim.

The court grants full ownership if you can prove the pet favors. It’s important to note that a judge will consider a child’s attachment to an animal as they recognize the emotional ties of owning a pet. Therefore, if you are awarded custody of your child, this can impact whether you receive the pet during the division of assets.

What is a Pet Custody Plan?

A divorce is never easy; however, it becomes even more complicated when pets are involved. Deciding who gets ownership of the pet is often a complex issue. As such, you should consider working with your ex to reach an agreement regarding caring for your beloved pet outside of court.

In a pet custody plan, you can outline each party’s time with their pet instead of letting the court have the final say in the decision. This plan can help you protect your pet’s best interests and ensure you both spend time with the animal. If one partner is better suited to care for the pet, you can dictate that the pet will primarily reside with one party but be awarded visitation time on weekends.

If you need help determining a fair pet custody plan, please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted attorney from the Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC, who can effectively represent your interests.