When I got married, my wife had a cat. I love my wife but I don’t like cats. Now we have a dog and ironically, the dog has bonded with my wife. For many, issues relating to a dog and divorce (note – when I say dog, the same rules also apply to cats, horses, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters and other animals) are as important as custody, parenting time, child support, alimony and property division issues.
So what does Michigan divorce law say about a dog and divorce?
In the first year of law school, every student takes property law. Property law describes ownership of land, and personal property (bank accounts, jewelry furniture etc.) One take away from property law that every law student remembers is that your beloved family pet is simply chattel under the law. Chattel is one of those words used only in law school and is defined as a personal possession.
Simply put, a dog and divorce is like jewelry and divorce, or a bank account and divorce. A dog is property. The love, affection and bond a party may have over a dog, cat, horse or other animal is lost in Michigan divorce law. Under Michigan divorce law, the value of a dog is simply the replacement value of the animal without consideration of emotions.
Lawyers creatively get around the dog and divorce legal dilemma by drafting pet parenting time agreements just like parenting time agreements in custody cases. The parties agree on sharing the expense and time associated with a dog and divorce. If the parties cannot agree, the laws of Michigan property law will apply.
About Findling Law:
I have been in practice for almost 20 years and practice exclusively in divorce and family law. My practice includes several attorneys who share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their life, without compromising principles. We have extensive experience in high socio-economic, high profile and high conflict cases which has nurtured a skill set applicable to all divorce and family law cases regardless of socio-economic status. We recognize that it is the application of the law that is most important aspect of practice. That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm.
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By: Daniel Findling