In a previous post, we discussed the trend in some states of treating pets as children in a divorce—and establishing custody arrangements accordingly. However, in most states—including North Carolina—pets are still considered marital property, which can be allocated to one party or the other, just like your house or your car.

While the prospect of losing your wedding china in a divorce may be easy to handle, losing a loyal friend and companion can be extremely difficult to endure. And when your divorce is contested—i.e., you and your ex can’t agree on the terms of your divorce—you lose the right to choose what happens to your pet. Instead, a judge makes this determination for you.

However, even when divorcing couples don’t agree on everything, there are certain steps they can take to maintain some control over the future of their pet.

Pet agreement

Even if a divorce goes to court, couples can still work together to establish agreements regarding certain aspects they see eye to eye on. If both members of a couple can get on the same page about pet custody or visitation, they can submit a proposed agreement to the court, and the judge will likely approve it as part of the final divorce judgment.

Pet prenup

If you and your spouse already have a pet when you get married, you can create a prenuptial agreement which lays out guidelines for how to share your pet in the event of a divorce. Similarly, if you get a pet after you tie the knot, you could establish a postnuptial agreement addressing the same issues.

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally trying process. But maintaining connection to a beloved pet can provide valuable emotional support when you need it most.