If you have a pet and are planning to get divorced in Charleston, it is essential for you to know that your pet is most likely going to be part of the divorce process. To be sure, the court will need to determine whether your pet should be classified as nonmarital property or marital property. Then, if your pet is considered to be marital property, the court will need to determine which of the parties the pet will go to as part of the property division portion of your divorce. You might be thinking: is my pet really property? You might also be frustrated since you feel like your pet is part of your family. For many people, a pet is akin to a child, and it may seem absurd that the pet is considered to be property. Yet this is how the law works in South Carolina. Our Charleston divorce lawyers can explain in more detail.
South Carolina Law Considers Pets to Be Property in a Divorce
South Carolina law says that pets are considered property in a divorce case. You might be confused since you recently read information about pet custody, or sharing custody of a pet in a divorce case. Most likely, you read about pet custody in another state. There are only currently a handful of states that recognize pet custody (California, Alaska, New York, Maine, and New Hampshire), and South Carolina is not one of them.
As such, you will not be able to fight for pet custody in your divorce. Instead, if you have a pet you love, you will need to understand how the court will handle ownership of the pet.
Pet Will Need to Be Classified as Marital or Nonmarital Property
First, the court will need to determine if your pet is marital or nonmarital property — just like any other asset you or your spouse own. The pet will likely be nonmarital property if you adopted or purchased the pet prior to the date of the marriage. Then, if you adopted or purchased the pet after the date of the marriage, the pet is most likely marital property (and will be part of the property division process). It may seem odd or even inhumane that a value will be ascribed to your pet, or that your pet will receive the same consideration as a motor vehicle or a bank account. Yet unless South Carolina law changes, this is how the process works.
Courts consider a range of factors when determining how to divide all marital property equitably between the spouses. If you are particularly intent on keeping your pet after the divorce, you may want to consider a marital settlement agreement. You will likely need to give up other property in exchange. A lawyer can discuss options with you.
Contact a Divorce Attorney in Charleston
Realizing that your beloved family pet will be treated like property in a divorce can be extremely difficult information to process. Divorce can be tough enough as it is without having to worry about who will get the family pet. Our Charleston divorce attorneys can talk with you today about your case and your options for keeping your dog, cat, or other pet. We know these cases can be complex and emotional, and we are here to help. Contact The Peck Law Firm online today or give us a call at 843-631-7117 for more information.