Pet Custody


When child custody is an issue in a divorce, there are established criteria a judge will follow to determine how care for any children will be split.


Oregon is Famously Pet-Friendly


In fact, Oregon law states all domestic animals must have constant access to shelter that protects them from the elements.

Pets as Family

Portland has more dog parks per capita than any other large U.S. city. Clearly, many people consider their pets to be members of their families. 

Portland alone has:


Off-Leash Pet Areas


Although you may look at your pet as a family member, Oregon courts see pets as property.

Pet Custody Law

Pets as Property

Since pets have the same legal status as other physical possessions, pet custody can come down to a simple monetary calculation, no matter how much you love them. 

Who gets to keep a pet after a divorce?

Pet Custody Through Mediation


In mediation, one spouse may simply agree to give up a pet, or a pet may be "exchanged" for another item of similar value.

Pet Parenting Plans


In mediation, spouses may also agree to a pet parenting plan that outlines custody and care. However, these agreements are not legally binding.

What if spouses cannot agree on pet custody?

Equitable Distribution

If a judge must get involved in a pet custody dispute, they will base their decision on the principle of equitable distribution, which states marital assets should be split fairly, not necessarily equally.

A Judge May Consider

Whether one spouse had the pet before marriage

Who acquired or put the most effort toward acquiring the pet

Whether it is in a child's best interest to stay with the pet

Whether one spouse is abusive toward the animal

Who invests the most in caring for the pet

Because losing a pet can be extremely painful, you may protect your interests before marriage.

Pet Custody Plans

If one spouse owns the pet(s) when entering into the marriage, custody arrangements can be worked out before marriage.

Premarital agreements


You and your spouse may also create a parenting plan when acquiring a pet, which, while not necessarily legally binding, may be taken into consideration in a divorce.


Parenting plans

If you are considering marriage or divorce and a pet is involved, contact one of our family law attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP. 

Seek Counsel

Our lawyers can guide you through the process, explain the law, and represent your interests.