There are many reasons why a person may pursue a contested divorce and not an uncontested divorce. One thing that many people do not consider when determining whether or not they should hire a lawyer for a prenuptial agreement is that in the state of Tennessee, pets are considered personal property. This means you do not get a “best-interests” determination like you would with a child. Thus, without a prenuptial agreement, the Court will determine who gets the pet similarly to how they determine who gets what property. The Court will look at factors such as who purchased the pet, who cared for the pet, who is in the best position to “preserve the property,” or who paid for the pet’s regular expenses. Sometimes, pets may also be a business asset such as purebred cats or dogs, or thoroughbred horses.
Some states now have pet visitation and alimony, but Tennessee is not there yet. However, most judges will allow the parties to agree to the “sharing” of your pet property if the parties have a complete agreement on the divorce. If you are contemplating divorce and have a pet that is of high importance, you may wish to retain an attorney well before you plan to file so that you can build the necessary record in anticipation of a hearing and increase the odds of you being granted the pet in your contested divorce. If you plan on getting a pet and are concerned about divorce, post-nuptial agreements may be an option. At the very least, keep all legal licenses and medical records in your name only to increase the likelihood that you are favored to keep the pet by the divorce court.
– Attorney Morgan Smith, Contested Divorce Lawyer, Nashville, Tennessee 2015
For further reading, see: Joyann E. Butler v. James Michael Butler (Tennessee Court of Appeals)
© Law On Your Schedule 2015