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Who Gets to Keep the Pets in a Massachusetts Divorce?


For many married couples in Massachusetts, their pet is their baby. They will provide the finest of care and love for their pet, take him or her on family vacations, share their pictures on social media, and have a deep emotional attachment with the pet.

But a serious question about a pet’s ownership and custody may arise in situations where the couple goes through a divorce at some point. Who gets to keep the family pet can be as important, or sometimes even more important, than other matters in a divorce.

If you want to keep the family pet with you after your divorce, you may need to get the other party to agree to your wish, or convince the court why you deserve to be with your pet after divorce. To make sure that your interests are thoroughly protected, speak to Jay Davis, who is a top-rated MA divorce lawyer with more than two decades of experience in this area. To schedule a confidential consultation with Jay, call (617) 752-6216 today.

What Does the Law Say?

Although a loving pet owner is not likely to see it this way, the law views family pets as a part of marital property. According to Massachusetts’ law of equitable distribution that applies to a divorce, in the eyes of the court your pet is only property.

The legal implication of the pet being considered property is that there are no custody rights or visitation rights involved. Any property in a divorce must be distributed to one or the other party, but it cannot be shared between them. In other words, every “asset” in an MA divorce must have a final distribution. This means, one party gets the pet, while the other party must part with them forever. And once the asset distribution has been finalized, you cannot get it changed later. Under MA law, there is no provision for a post-divorce modification of property distribution.

How Does the Judge Decide Who Gets the Pet?

In an ideal situation, if you and your ex-spouse can come to an agreement about who keeps the pet after divorce, it will bring emotional relief for both sides. However, if you are unable to agree, the court will make the decision, quite like it may decide about your furniture or car.

The judge will probably inquire whether the pet was acquired or purchased prior to marriage or during the course of marriage. They may also like to know which spouse took the larger share of responsibilities related to the pet’s care over the years. Since a pet cannot testify, the judge may want to look at evidence such as pet store receipts, veterinarian bills, and even testimonies from other family members or neighbors regarding who regularly took the pet out for walks, and who was involved in its primary care.

Dedicated divorce attorney Jay Davis has a nuanced understanding of these sensitive aspects of the divorce law in Massachusetts. Should pet custody become a contentious issue, Jay can assist you in collecting evidence in order to build a strong case justifying why you deserve to retain the ownership of your beloved pet.

Call us now at (617) 752-6216 to make an appointment with Jay Davis for your MA divorce.

Types of Evidence That Will Support Your Case

It may be prudent to first approach your ex-spouse for a reasonable agreement about the ownership and custody of your pet after divorce. Your divorce lawyer may recommend creative solutions that may be negotiated with your former spouse in this matter.

But if an agreement is not possible, your attorney may help you obtain the following types of evidence to support your case for pet custody:

  • Documents of ownership or adopting showing that you are the registered owner of your pet.
  • An affidavit from the veterinarian or vet receipts that prove that you have been taking your pet to the vet on most occasions.
  • Bill copies from the offline or online pet store, which show that you made most of the purchases for your pet.
  • If you ever took your pet for puppy play time, a dog show, or training classes, any evidence or photos related to it.
  • Photographs showing you and your pet together as well as any social media posts, comments, and images that you posted about your pet (particularly ‘before’ the divorce was filed).
  • Financial evidence showing that you will be in a position to take reliable care of your pet after divorce.
  • Evidence about your job or work schedules, which backs up your claim that you will have sufficient spare time to care for your pet.

Consult with the Seasoned Divorce Lawyer Jay Davis Today!

Davis Law Group, led by experienced divorce attorney Jay Davis, has been serving the people of Massachusetts that may need legal advice and support in divorce cases.

Jay and his competent legal team will guide you through the intricate aspects of your case, and do everything possible within the realm of law to protect your rights. Call us at (617) 752-6216 or contact us online to schedule a convenient appointment with us today.

The post Who Gets to Keep the Pets in a Massachusetts Divorce? first appeared on Davis Law Group.
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