Ordway Law Group, LLC
Ordway Law Group, LLC
Divorce & Family Law

Who keeps the family pet in a Georgia divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2023 | Family Law |

The end of a marriage is the beginning of a process of separating two lives. Associated with this split are many considerations.

One such consideration is who retains the family pet. While pets are often valuable companions and considered part of the family, Georgia law classifies them as property. This makes them subject to the normal property division policy, which is one of equitability. Courts consider numerous factors when determining who receives animals in a divorce.


Judges are more likely to award a pet to the person who was the primary caregiver and provider during the marriage to ensure his or her care after the divorce. Documentation of responsibilities related to the pet’s care, such as feeding, grooming, paying for supplies and handling veterinary visits, can prove which partner was primarily responsible for him or her. Additionally, judges may consider which spouse has the financial ability to provide for the animal. If there are minor children involved who have an attachment to the pet, they may also consider the children’s well-being.


Who retains the family pet also depends in large part on the divorcing couple’s ability to communicate and negotiate. If they can come to an agreement, they can set up a custody and visitation arrangement.

Special considerations

Another factor that comes into play is whether the couple obtained the pet during the marriage or he or she originally belonged to only one of them. If one spouse came into the marriage with the pet, then the pet is separate property and stays with the original owner. He or she is not part of the division process.

When the family pet is an expensive purebred, additional considerations may come into play. The financial investment involved and potential future breeding opportunities may impact the court’s decision.

According to Statista, approximately 65.1 million American households have a dog, 46.5 million have a cat and 11.1 million have a freshwater fish. Countless other households own some other kind of pet. Animals are important family members, so deciding who gets to keep them in a divorce can be a contentious process. Georgia courts view them as property and look at considerations like who can take care of them best, financial investment and children’s emotional health when determining who retains family pets.

Ordway Law Group, LLC – A Reputation For Excellence In Resolving Complex Divorces


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