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Pets may become bargaining chips in divorce

If you get into a contentious divorce with your spouse, he or she may look for bargaining chips to use against you. One of these could simply be the family dog.

Technically, the court views pets as property. However, you know that it goes far beyond that. You have a relationship with your pet, a close bond. Losing your pet would be far more heartbreaking than losing, saying, your flat-screen TV. Even though that TV may have cost far more, you can replace a television. Replacing a pet is possible, but it will always be a different pet.

In any case, experts warn that your spouse could realize this and attempt to use it against you. For instance, maybe your spouse really wants that vacation property you bought together. You don't want to just give it up; you'd rather sell it and split the money. Your spouse could then say that if you don't relent and give up the vacation property, he or she will try to get possession of the pet.

The problem, for you, is that emotional connection that goes beyond money. From a strictly financial perspective, no dog is worth the same amount as a vacation property, and it's not even close. But your spouse may hope that you'll throw logic out the window and give him or her a $300,000 property in exchange for a $300 dog.

In complex divorce cases in which both parties are not on good terms, disagreements are common, as are struggles over dividing property. Be sure you know your rights and what you can do to protect them during the case.

Source: Forbes, "How Are Pets Handled In Divorce?," Jeff Landers, accessed May 16, 2017

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