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Divorce and Pets in Michigan

A recent family discussion regarding the family pet brought up some intense feelings on both sides of the fence.  How does Michigan law treat a pet in the event of a Divorce? Most families see their pets as beloved family members, not property, but that is just how Michigan law sees your pet- as property.  The Court cannot create a “custody” arrangement for the pets, because, under the eyes of the law, your pet is treated no differently than say, your couch or television set. 

However, if parties can come up with an agreement on a type of arrangement to share the pet, the Court can order that agreement.  So, like most things, it is best if you come up with the arrangement on your own.  One thing I tell clients is that they know their situation better than the Judge ever can, so they are in the best position to make good decisions regarding these issues.  Whether you agree to share equal time or have one person have “custody” of the pet and the other parent to have “visitation” to dividing your pets up, you can have control over the decision and do what is best for your animals. But if you can’t, be prepared for the Judge to treat your furry friends as pieces of property rather than like your children. 

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