Pets are often like another family member. When you get a divorce, the idea of being separated from your pet may be devastating. Unfortunately, that is often the reality because courts in Maryland treat pets as property. This may seem harsh, but it is the law at this time. Some other states have taken steps to treat pets more like children, but that has not happened in Maryland, yet, so you are bound by general property division laws.

According to Psychology Today, the court will determine the ownership of the pet and whether it is marital property. It may also determine the value of the pet. This is because the court can force you to sell it and split the money. However, your best option is to come to an agreement outside of court regarding the pet.

The most favorable option is treating the pet as a child and determining a visitation schedule. Keep in mind, though, if one of you fails to follow the visitation schedule, you will not have the same recourse as you would with a child. In fact, the court could decide you must sell the pet if you cannot carry out your agreement.

The bottom line is while we may think of pets as part of the family, the law does not at least not yet. If the law changes, pets could become more like children. In the meantime, you are best off if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can create an agreement on your own and stick to it. This information is for education and is not legal advice.