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Legal Information: Delaware


Laws current as of March 26, 2024

Will the judge decide who gets custody of my pet?

If the judge determines that a pet (“companion animal”) is marital property, usually because it was obtained during the marriage, the judge can award ownership of the pet to one or both spouses. The judge can also assign responsibility for veterinary or other extraordinary expenses to one or both spouses.1 When making this decision, the judge should take into consideration the well-being of the pet, considering factors such as:

  • the ability of each party to own, support, and provide necessary care for the pet;
  • the attachment between the pet and each of the parties;
  • the time and effort each party spent with the pet during the marriage tending to the animal’s needs.2

After the judge makes an order of joint ownership, either party may later file a petition based on a substantial change of circumstances to ask for sole ownership due to the pet’s welfare and the totality of the circumstances.3

1 13 Del.C. § 1513(g)(1)
2 13 Del.C. § 1513(g)(2)
3 13 Del.C. § 1513(g)(3)(d)