Reading the New York Times, I came across this article about States that are passing laws to give guidance to Judges in Family Court regarding family pets in divorce. Nevada has no laws in place dealing with who gets the pets in a divorce, nor am I aware of any currently pending legislation dealing with this issue. As in many States, in Nevada, pets are considered personal property and accordingly, if a divorcing couple were fighting about who gets the pets, the Court would assess their monetary value as part of the overall equal division of community property assets.
As an animal lover, of course I recognize that my pets have value that has nothing to do with the adoption fees I paid the various rescue organizations when I adopted them. Their value to me is entirely emotional, and in no way monetary. Yet, their value as a personal property asset would be the assessed value in divorce court in Nevada.
Ideally, a divorcing couple would recognize that the pets are more spouse’s than the other’s and agree accordingly. However, in divorce, not everyone has the emotional capacity to make such a reasoned agreement. And of course, sometimes people are willing to use pets as emotional leverage to get more of something else they want in a divorce.
It will be interesting to see if this issue gains traction across the country and if more States decide to adopt a “best interest” standard for pets in a divorce.