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Battles over pets during an Arizona divorce can get heated

Divorce rates have remained steady in Arizona over the past few years. They've even outpaced national averages most years. This has led many to inquire what happens with their kids and assets when they divorce in the state.

Arizona is community property state. This generally means that any marital assets would have to be split equally between spouses if they were to divorce. Lawmakers have written the state's laws, so this is not necessarily the case though. They instead have empowered Arizona judges to ensure that the division of assets is fair and as equal as possible.

While many of us probably think of our home, cars or bank accounts as marital assets, Arizona lawmakers consider our pets to be property that also has to be divided up in a divorce.

If both you and your ex think more of your dog or cat as a child and not as a piece of property, then you both may be in for a courtroom battle unless you can work out an agreement for how the two of you can share custody of it.

You may be able to strengthen your case for why you should retain custody of your pet by showing that you're the person primarily responsible for its care. It may help for you to show evidence of how much of an integral role your pet plays in you and your family's life and how important it is to your pet's own health and well-being to continue being surrounded by you.

If you and your ex signed a prenuptial agreement before you got married and included the pet in it, then this can give you a leg up when you argue you should be allowed to keep it. Even if you didn't, if you can prove that you acquired it or were given it as a gift, then this may help your case for retaining custody of it, too.

Making your case for why a pet should remain in your custody versus your ex's isn't always easy to do since Arizona lawmakers classify them as property. It's also difficult because little research exists about the impact that a family splitting up can have on a pet's emotional and physical health. A Phoenix family law attorney can advocate for you and your pet's best interests on your behalf.

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