Dividing up the family pets during a divorce in South Carolina

Like many South Carolina residents, you may find that dividing property during a divorce is a complicated matter, especially when it comes to the family pets. At EJG Family Law we understand how to plan for the division of assets – including your animals – using the Palmetto State’s equitable distribution system.

If you are like many separating spouses, you may unknowingly neglect your pets while the more overwhelming concerns revolve around child custody or financial support. Things might become even more stressful if you need to buy a portion of a property from your soon-to-be ex-spouse. During what may be an emotionally-draining process, it might be easy to overlook how the family dog could be viewed as either a marital or non-marital property by the court.

In South Carolina, you might be asked to classify your pets as a non-marital asset if they were:

  • Given to you as a gift by someone other than your spouse
  • Purchased with your own separate money or inheritance
  • Adopted or acquired by you before the marriage

When pets were obtained during marriage or together with your spouse, however, they might instead be classified as marital property. You may need to provide reasons to prove it is fair for your animals to stay with you or your children. In some circumstances, a Family Court Judge might determine that keeping a pet is not fair, or that you must pay your ex in order to take full ownership of the animal. You may need to be prepared with a strong argument to maintain custody of a pet, such as a history of how you took care of it or made a substantial financial contribution to its maintenance and upkeep.

Unexpectedly learning at the divorce hearing that a beloved cat or dog is not moving in with you might be painful. You may wish to learn more about how to best ensure that all of your personal property stays with you on our property division page.