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Decisions regarding pets can be difficult in a divorce

When facing a divorce, couples in Michigan have a seemingly endless list of issues with which to deal. From spousal support to property division, the range of topics is varied and complex. Within the realm of property division can fall many sub-topics as well. These can include a couple’s home, automobiles, vacation home, bank accounts, retirement accounts and even business assets. The need to determine what is marital property and what is non-marital property can also be a challenge at times and directly affect the ultimate settlement.

An article in the news recently highlighted what seems to be found more and more in some divorces—the arrangements involving any pets owned by a couple. The article reported that for one Florida couple, the divorce settlement originally gave custody of the family dog to the husband while the wife was granted stated visitation rights for weekends and even some holidays. However, this original decision was later overturned and the husband was given sole custody. One reason for the change was that the man had owned the dog prior to the marriage so it was ultimately identified as non-marital property.

The court was cited as stating that it should not be tasked with many determinations about pets but rather allowed to focus on children for custody decisions. It was further indicated that pets are to be treated as any other piece of marital or non-marital property. While every state has unique laws in this area, this is an interesting case to note even for Michigan residents.

People who must wrestle with any divorce-related decision might find it helpful to work with an attorney. Legal guidance can help to keep emotions in check and maintain a focus on equitable division properly.

Source: Huffington Post, “Who Gets The Pets In A Divorce? What You Need To Consider When Fighting Over Fido,” Maria Moya, January 19, 2014

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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