Solving Legal Issues With Experience CALL FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

Who Gets the Pets in a Divorce?

Rundberg Law, LLC Feb. 8, 2023

A Man Shares a House with Images of Property, Children and Pets After DivorceSeparation and divorce are challenging for everyone and everything involved. Unfortunately, it is easy to overlook silent victims: pets. Beloved pets also suffer during a divorce. Therefore, protecting pets during a divorce is a crucial part of the process.  

At Rundberg Law, LLC, I can walk you through what can happen to pets during a divorce in Missouri and Kansas. I have the resources, practice, and skills to help you look toward a brighter future with your furry friend. I proudly serve clients in Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas, and Missouri. 

Custody of Pets in Kansas 

Pets are more than mere animals. They are dear members and hold their place accordingly. Sadly, Kansas law considers pets as property like any other material object. However, pets are considered personal property, similar to clothing.  

Custody pets in Overland Park, Kansas (including Johnson County), “custody” refers to “ownership” of pets. Since Kansas law considers pets as property, pets must have a rightful owner. Thus, determining a pet’s rightful owner can become a tricky situation. 

The simplest way to determine ownership is by keeping pets with children in the household. In cases with no children, the rightful owner may refer to the spouse who acquired the pet or has the closest bond. 

Custody of Pets in Missouri 

Missouri state law has a similar view of pets. Pets are considered personal property. Therefore, a pet’s rightful owner would be the spouse with whom the pet has the closest bond. 

Please bear in mind that personal property does not follow the same asset division rules as marital property. Consequently, pets cannot be divided 50/50. Ideally, the spouses would agree on who keeps the pets. When an agreement is not reached, the court determines who gets to keep the pets in a divorce. 

Factors the Court Considers When Determining Custody of Pets in Missouri and Kansas 

When the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court must intervene to determine who gets to keep the pets. Unlike most property, the court cannot assign ownership based solely on who paid for it or acquired it.  

Let’s look at the factor the court considers when determining custody of pets:  

  • The party that paid for the pet or acquired it.  

  • The party whose name appears on the ownership papers.  

  • The pet’s primary caretaker. This situation includes responsibility for taking care of the pet, feeding it, ensuring its grooming, exercising it, and taking it to the vet.  

  • The party responsible for covering the pet’s expenses.  

  • How work schedules impact caring for the pet.  

  • The residence where the pet will stay. Specifically, if the living arrangements are appropriate for the pet.  

  • History of animal abuse.  

  • Children’s attachment to the pet. For example, the court decides the pet stays with the custodial parent and the children.  

Please bear in mind that the custodial parent would most likely get ownership of the pet unless the pet is deemed dangerous to the children’s well-being. 

Reaching a Settlement on Pet Custody in Kansas and Missouri 

The best alternative is to reach an agreement. Doing so avoids needless confrontation. Moreover, children’s emotional attachment must be considered. Separating children from a beloved pet can have serious consequences for children’s emotional and psychological well-being. 

Pet Ownership Options in Kansas and Missouri 

There are two main ownership options to consider: 

Sole Ownership 

Sole ownership means awarding complete ownership to one of the parties. In general, this party would be the custodial parent. In the absence of children, the pet would stay with whoever has a closer attachment (i.e., the pet’s primary caretaker). 

Joint Ownership 

Joint ownership may involve the pet staying in a single residence or splitting time between one residence and the other. The main concern is to avoid potential confrontation over who gets to keep the pet at certain points. An agreement may include a calendar regulating stays and visits. 

Fighting for the Ones You Love 

At Rundberg Law, LLC, I join the fight for the ones you love. I understand the immeasurable value a pet has. That is why I am committed to helping families protect their beloved furry or feathered companions.  

Contact my firm today to speak with a seasoned divorce and family law attorney. I can help you protect the ones you love. I proudly serve clients in Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas, and Missouri.