Who Gets the Pet in a Georgia Divorce?

Who Gets the Pet in a Georgia Divorce?

Divorce is a challenging process that not only affects the lives of the people involved but also extends to the members of their families, including pets. In Georgia, as in many states, pets are considered personal property. However, the emotional bonds formed with pets can make decisions about their custody uniquely distressful and complex.

Understanding Property Division in Georgia

In Georgia, the courts handle pets similarly to other personal property during a divorce. This means that pets are subject to equitable division under Georgia’s equitable distribution laws. Unlike community property states where property is divided 50/50, equitable distribution aims to divide property fairly, though not always equally, based on each party’s contributions to the marriage and their future needs.

Factors Considered in Pet Custody

When deciding who gets the pet, the court may consider several factors:

  • Who adopted or purchased the pet: If one spouse owned the pet prior to the marriage, it is likely that the pet will be considered separate property and remain with the original owner.
  • Who has been the primary caretaker: Courts often consider who has taken primary responsibility for the care of the pet, including feeding, walking, grooming, and visiting the vet.
  • Children’s attachment to the pet: If children are involved, the court may also consider where the children are residing most of the time and their emotional attachment to the pet.
  • Each party’s living situation post-divorce: The ability of each spouse to accommodate the pet in their new living situation can also be a factor, including the suitability of the living environment for the pet.

Negotiating Pet Custody

Many couples opt to settle the issue of pet custody outside of court through negotiation or mediation. This often results in a more amicable agreement that considers the well-being of the pet and respects the emotional ties each party has to the animal. Some couples even arrange a pet custody agreement similar to a child custody plan, where the pet spends a designated amount of time with each person.

Legal Precedents and Trends

Although Georgia law currently treats pets as property, there is a growing trend in some states to consider the well-being of the pet more like that of a child. Courts in these jurisdictions are beginning to consider the best interests of the pet, a significant shift from the traditional view of pets as property.

Tips for Handling Pet Custody

If you are going through a divorce in Georgia and are concerned about who will get your pet, consider these tips:

  • Document your involvement: Keep records of your role in caring for the pet, including vet visits, purchase of supplies, and daily care tasks.
  • Be realistic about your lifestyle: Consider your post-divorce living arrangements and whether they are suitable for pet ownership.
  • Consider a shared custody arrangement: If possible, consider sharing the pet with your ex-spouse, especially if both parties are attached to the animal.


In Georgia divorces, determining who gets the pet involves considering multiple aspects of both the pet’s and the family’s well-being. As laws evolve and pets become increasingly recognized for their role as family members, the legal landscape regarding pet custody during divorce may continue to change. If you are facing such a decision, consulting with a family law attorney who understands the intricacies of property division and pet custody in Georgia is crucial. This can ensure that your beloved animal’s future is handled with the utmost care and consideration.

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