If you are one of the many Americans with a beloved pet that you consider to be a member of the family, you may be surprised to know that the court doesn’t feel this way at all. Under the eyes of the law, pets are property much like your television or bedroom set.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to divide ownership of pets during divorce. In fact, many Ohio couples going through divorce struggle to reach an agreement over who should get their pet. And they treat the process more like a child custody matter than dividing property.

In some cases, pet owners decide to set up a shared custody arrangement, a divorce lawyer from Fargo recently told the press. She said she encourages this type of agreement when both parties have an emotional attachment to the pet and it is feasible for the pet to go back-and-forth between the two homes.

The attorney said she writes the pet custody arrangement up in the divorce decree so that each party clearly understands his or her rights and responsibilities when it comes to the pet. It could also allow the court to intervene if one party doesn’t follow up with their end of the bargain.

However, not all “pet custody” matters are amicable, and sometimes one spouse tries to use the family pet as a bargaining tool in the property negotiations by taking advantage of the other spouse’s emotional attachment to the pet.

When that happens, the pet-loving spouse’s attorney can stand up for their client and demand a fair settlement.

These are just a couple of reasons why an experienced family law attorney is crucial in divorce cases involving beloved pets.