Pets can be a major source of emotional support and comfort during a marriage. However, pets, which are considered property in the eyes of a divorce court, can quickly become a point of contention during a marital dissolution involving property division in Virginia. This is because if two married individuals agree to buy a dog, for example, and have grown close to that dog, neither of them may be willing to part ways with the pet following the couple’s divorce. Unfortunately, a divorce proceeding involving pets can affect not only the pet owners but also the pet.
Just as the divorce can cause stress to the divorcing individuals, it can also cause the pet to feel stressed. Signs of stress in a pet include a weakened appetite and a tendency to become depressed and sleep more than usual. A pet also might not be as interested in going on walks or doing other regular activities.
In addition, pets may begin to whimper or cry. Sometimes, they may bite, lick or groom themselves excessively, and in other cases, they have bathroom-related accidents inside the house. Realizing that a pet is feeling anxious because of a divorce can naturally add to a person’s own level of anxiety during the proceeding, and thus hamper the individual’s ability to make logical and just decisions regarding the pet.
Unfortunately, one party might simply start a serious property division dispute involving a pet just to cause hurt to his or her soon-to-be ex. It’s best if the two individuals can work out a solution on their own that will satisfy both sides and create the best home environment for the pet going forward. If they can’t do this, then a judge in Virginia will have to make the final decision regarding the pet.
Source: allenpub.com, "Divorce? Who gets the pets?!", , July 18, 2014