Families have a way of growing unexpectedly. Between children and pets, you and your spouse may soon find yourselves responsible for a number of lives. Whether you adopted fur babies because you chose to remain childless or augmented your already full family with dogs and cats, the companion animals in your life hold an important place in your heart and in the hearts of any children you share with your spouse.
As you consider a divorce in Louisiana, you may worry about splitting your assets and the custody of your children. Although it may seem to you that pets fall into some strange legal gray area between possessions and people, that is not how the family courts in Louisiana look at animals.
The better you understand how the courts will handle your companion animals in a divorce, the more strategic you can be with how you handle your divorce and protect that precious relationship.
Pets are considered assets, which are subject to division in divorce
If someone asked you to put a price tag on your pet, you would likely consider their personality and your memories of them when determining what is fair and reasonable. However, the courts won’t put a financial value on your attachment. Instead, their sole focus will be on the arbitrary financial value of your pet, which they view as just another possession.
Certain breeds may represent a much higher value. Exceptional medical care or improvements could also affect the value assigned to the animal by the courts. However, unless you set your own terms for the handling of your companion animal, the courts will simply assign a value and then allocate it to one spouse while using its value to offset other assets in the property division process.
Uncontested divorces work well for those with deep attachments to pets
If you hope to arrange a shared custody situation or secure visitation with a companion animal that you love, an uncontested divorce filing is likely your best option in a Louisiana divorce. When you go through mediation or another alternative dispute resolution option, such as arbitration, you can maintain control over the exact terms set in your divorce.
In other words, an uncontested divorce in Louisiana will allow you to set terms for your divorce that the courts would never spend time arranging on your behalf. You can include a shared custody arrangement for your pet or a pet visitation schedule in your agreement for an uncontested divorce. In most cases, the courts will allow you to set these terms, even if they would not hear testimony or make similar arrangements on the issue themselves.