If a couple shares a pet while married, they may face unique complications during property division in a divorce. Here is everything you need to know about who keeps pet custody in a North Carolina divorce.

How are pets granted custody to a certain spouse?

North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, meaning that at the time of divorce, all property purchased during the marriage is to be split evenly between both parties. The property involved in the divorce is classified under three titles: separate, marital, and divisible.

Related: 7 Steps to the North Carolina Divorce Process

  • Separate property: Separate property is any asset owned entirely by one spouse in the marriage.
  • Marital Property: Marital property is owned by both parties and was gained during the duration of the marriage.
  • Divisible property: Divisible property includes value changes in marital debt or assets occurring after the duration of the marriage.

Pets are considered marital property. The pet is first granted to the spouse who brought the pet into the marriage. If the pet was purchased during the duration of the marriage, then there will need to be a custody determination made by the court which will require relevant information. If there is any sign of animal abuse, then the pet will not be granted to the abusing party.

Related: North Carolina Spousal Support Laws: Calculating Alimony

Pets involved in domestic abuse

Under North Carolina Statute § 50B-3(a)(8)3, a protective order in a domestic abuse case may “provide for possession of personal property of the parties, including the care, custody, and control of any animal owned, possessed, kept, or held as a pet by either party or minor child residing in the household.”

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