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The most difficult property to divide in divorce could be the pet

Just about any pet owner in Tennessee will tell you that a pet is just as much a part of a family as any person. However, in most jurisdictions, pets are considered property, the same as a couch or piece of jewelry. This can be extremely upsetting when pet owners get divorced and are looking for an easy way to establish custody.

Unfortunately, there may be no easy way to come to an agreement on custody of a pet. Unlike child custody laws, there really are no clear rules on determining which party should get custody of a dog, cat, or other domestic animal. Because of this, there may be many different ways to find a solution.

In some cases, it can be possible for two people to figure out on their own an arrangement for where a pet will live. You and your ex may find that you agree the pet will spend every other week with each person. You may also decide that one person is more prepared to take care of the pet because of where you each live or who has the financial means to raise the animal.

Even if you can't make this kind of decision on your own, courts are seeing an increasing number of pet custody cases in which a judge makes the decision. In these situations, a judge may rule that whoever bought the pet should keep the pet, or that the pet should be awarded to a parent who also has primary custody of the children.

However, there are some cases when exes or judges only see a pet as a piece of property or a way to balance the scales when everything is divided up. This could impact the division of assets if one person ultimately gives up significant money or properties just to keep a pet.

Because of all the ways that pet custody cases can turn out, it can be crucial that you discuss your concerns and questions about pet custody with your divorce attorney. Working toward a fair and agreeable solution can be difficult, but with support it can be possible to seek a resolution that benefits everyone involved -- including your pet.

Source: Reuters, "In divorce and custody battles, now it's about the dog," Chris Taylor, Aug. 12, 2015