The Pandemic has taken a huge toll on several marriages and divorce rates are on the rise. Several issues get argued when two people are going through divorce, but an interesting question is, "Who gets the dog?"

For many couples dogs, or other animals, are like children and a beloved member of the family. Unfortunately, the laws of the State of New York do not look at animals in that way. Dogs and other pets are looked at as property here in New York State and when it comes to divorce, the determination of the final home for the animal is made the same way judges look at furniture or a vehicle.

Jennifer Hargrave is a Compassionate Family Law Attorney and she joined 'First News with Keeler in the Morning' Tuesday to discuss this touchy issue. Hargrave says, several people who are in the midst of a divorce coordinate arrangements much like they would regarding custody of a child." It's always the hope that two people can be amicable in divorce proceedings, but that's unfortunately not the case too often. Hargrave says, "the determination on ultimate possession is based on an individual state's laws regarding possessions."

According to the website SurviveDivorce.com, New York State is an equitable division state. In other states, known as Community Property States, property or possessions are split equally between the two parties. SurviveDivorce.com says,

They also have the right to manage any property that is in their name alone. While this will carry some weight in a divorce, it is not the only factor that determines an equitable division of assets.

As any judge would, they take several factors into consideration in making a decision on distributing assets, property and yes even pets. Under New York State law the issue of animals may be classified under the category of "Gifts." If the dog was owned by one of the two spouses prior to the marriage, it's likely that spouse who had it before would keep it. According to SuriveDivorce.com under the "gift" classification,

Assets that were given to one spouse during a marriage that were considered a gift are considered marital property by default, unless you can show that the gift was explicitly given to you alone and that it is not marital property. The best way to do this is to have a document created when the gift is given stating this fact and then have it notarized.

That leads to a way to ensure you know where the pup will end up before you tie the knot. Hargrave says that she has arranged several prenuptial agreements specifically geared towards animal possession. What this proves is you have to think of everything and while divorce is never something anyone wants, it's better to be prepared and have a mutual agreement from the start. It will save you and your animals a whole lot of heartache in the future.

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