Pets under the law are deemed to be property for equitable distribution. However, it is recognized that there are certain rights that parties' have as to that property. For example, the value of the pet may be equitably distributed but Parties may have rights to visitation with the pet. Terms of the equitable distribution or care or visitation with the pet and the costs for the care of the pet going forward may be part of any Property or Matrimonial Settlement Agreement. If you have questions regarding the equitable distribution of your personal property or the future care and costs for your pet, such as a dog or cat, please call Green & Associates at 732-390-0480 in our East Brunswick office or at 201-242-1119 in our Fort Lee office. Night appointments are available.
Generally, with the loss of a pet or where a pet is given outright to the other party, a party may seek part of the replacement value of the pet or their percentage interest in the pet. In terms of equitable distribution, if for example, a dog was purchased during the marriage with marital income of the parties, then a party would presumably have a 50% interest in the value of the pet based on purchase price or replacement cost. Some dogs may be prized animals purchased from breeders and their value may be in the thousands of dollars. Care for that pet in the future may also be in the thousands of dollars. Although, it is recognized that there is a personal interest that parties may have in a pet going forward and so visitation with that pet may also be at issue.