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Can Pets Be Separate Property in a Divorce in Oklahoma?

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Under Oklahoma law, animals and family pets are still considered property during a divorce proceeding, and thus will be distributed as property under the equitable distribution doctrine. pets seperate property

The necessity to determine how family pets are divided during divorce proceedings is evident in the number of people choosing to forgo having children, and instead, adopting “fur babies.”

Being able to anticipate how a court will likely divide your pets helps your divorce attorney better prepare you for the proceeding and collect evidence to present as to why the animal should reside with you.

Equitable Distribution Analysis

Oklahoma uses the doctrine of equitable distribution in deciding how assets should be divorced during a divorce. Equitable means fair, not necessarily equal. The court generally looks to the length of the marriage, future potential earnings of each spouse, and who contributed or put the most effort in acquiring the particular asset.

In the instance of family pet division, there have been cases that outline a few factors to consider when deciding which party will keep the pet. These factors include:

  • who is the primary care taker,
  • which home environment is best for the pet.
  • financial ability to care for the pet, and
  • bond between a particular spouse or family member.

However, there are exceptions to dividing the pet as if it were part of the marital property. Sometimes, a party can argue that the pet was their separate property before the marriage or that their spouse gave the pet to them as a gift.

Family Pet as Separate Property

Separate property is any property that is acquired before marriage and after separation. If you adopted your pet prior to marriage, it is possible to argue that your pet is actually your separate property, especially if you are also the sole caretaker.

However, if you use community funds, usually your income during marriage, to provide medical care, food, or additional care to your pet, the “marital community” may be entitled to reimbursement.  Your spouse may be entitled to part of the reimbursement.

Some of the elements the judge may consider when determining whether a pet is separate property are:

  • who adopted or purchased the pet,
  • when the purchase took place, and
  • best lifestyle for the pet.

Your Tulsa divorce attorney will help you collect the documents and evidence you will need to establish that your pet is in fact separate property.

Family Pet as Gift

It is not uncommon for a spouse to give the other spouse the gift of an animal for a Christmas or Birthday present. A gift from one spouse to another is considered separate property, even if the gift was given during the marriage, this is an exception to the marital property rule.

It would be especially helpful if the spouse that is seeking custody of the animal had pictures of receiving the gift, or statements by guests that attended the event where the gift was given.

Again, your Tulsa divorce attorney is best able to assist you in preparing a case that clearly shows the pet is your sole and separate property and help you provide the documentation to prove that

Free Consultation with a Tulsa Divorce Attorney

Having a divorce attorney that is highly skilled in proving the distinct nature of property and assets, will ensure that you are able to retain custody of your animal companion.

Hiring a knowledgeable divorce attorney will ensure the process is expertly conducted and your interests are well represented.

Contact an experienced Tulsa family law attorney when you need to go through the Oklahoma relocation process.

For a free confidential consultation, call now: 918-924-5526.


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