If you are like many people in Missouri, your dog is a valued member of your family. For some people, a dog is much like a child. You love it and do anything to ensure it is safe and happy. If you and your spouse decide to divorce, it can create a situation concerning the dog. Perhaps you both want to keep it and it becomes a point of contention during the divorce proceedings. At this point, the court will weigh in.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, courts see dog custody disputes often. There are a few different ways a court may handle your case depending on the situation. If either of you can prove you owned the dog before you got married, then that person is most likely to get awarded the dog. However, if you got the dog during your marriage and you have children, the court may set up a visitation schedule that mirrors the schedule of the children. For example, if you have your children on the weekdays and your ex-spouse gets them on the weekends, then you have the dog on the weekdays and the dog goes with them to the other parent’s house on the weekends.

In some cases, the court may look at the dog separate from everything else and treat it with similar standards that it treats children. This means the court looks at what is in the best interest of the dog. It may consider who takes care of the dog’s daily needs and other needs to determine who acts as the main caregiver and thus who should get custody.

Do keep in mind that while dogs may be handled in a similar manner to children, there are no support payments awarded for animals by the court. This information is for education and is not legal advice.