As many in Ohio know, the family pet often ends up being just as much a member of the family as anyone else. When a couple decides to divorce, the battle over who gets to keep the family pet can get heated. Even in a high asset divorce, who ends up with the family pet can be of more importance than many other issues.

Ohio family court judges generally consider pets as property, just like any other household asset. Because of this, many judges don't like to get involved in a battle over the family pet. They expect the couple to be able to work out ownership of the pet on their own.

There are times where circumstances make the decision easier, such as when there are children involved. Most parents wouldn't separate their child from the family pet, so the custodial parent often ends up with the animal. In other cases, the decision may be made by where one parent ends up living post-divorce. Sometimes, a couple just isn't able to come to an amicable agreement about what happens to their pet.

At this point, using a mediator may help. They are often more patient with these types of matters than judges. If that doesn't work, and the issue does end up before a judge, both parties may be asked to submit writings to the court indicating whey they should be granted "custody" of the pet. The parties will then be bound by whatever decision the judge makes.

When negotiating a property settlement agreement in a high asset divorce, some may choose to use the family pet as a bargaining chip. One party may be willing to give up a substantial asset, or will trade an asset, in order to get Fido or Spot. Whatever the parties end up deciding, it may be a good idea to document the agreement as with any other asset. This would be especially helpful if one party is granted "visitation rights" of the family pet.

Source:, "After a divorce or break-up, what happens to the pet?" Pamela Knudson, Oct. 23, 2012