Can you share custody when you have pets instead of kids?

Not every family grows by adding children. Plenty of modern couples augment their happiness by adding pets or fur babies to their families. Cats and dogs can provide love and companionship and often require significant effort and education, just like children.

Couples that have kids can rely on the Louisiana family courts to help them divide custody when they divorce. Will a Louisiana family judge also help you figure out what to do with your beloved cat or dog when you divorce?

Judges have to work with the law and existing precedent

In recent years, there has been a significant push across the country for the family courts to reconsider how they handle pets in divorce. Although a few states have adopted new practices, Louisiana is not yet one of them.

Like most states, Louisiana typically treats pets like property during a divorce. The animal represents a fixed value and will either be marital or separate property. If the animal is separate property, the person who owns the animal will retain it. If the pet is marital property, the judge will assign it to one spouse based on the request made during the divorce and other factors.

If you hope to share custody of your pet or make other arrangements that differ from the standard allocation to one spouse, you may need to think about settling outside of court. If you and your spouse reach an agreement, the courts may approve it even if they wouldn’t rule on the matter in a litigated filing. Thinking about your pets and other priorities can help you decide what strategy to use in an upcoming Louisiana divorce.