Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means that there might be a need to negotiate who takes ownership of your pets before a divorce is finalized. An animal that came into your life before the marriage, however, is your own separate personal property and it may stay with you. If you are planning on moving in with friends or relatives after the divorce, it may be a good idea to consider Roanoke County’s rules for the limits on the number of pets allowed in a household.

The friends or relatives you plan to live with after your divorce may enter into an unlawful situation if the pet or pets you bring with you cause the allowable household limit to be exceeded. In Roanoke County, a household can not have greater than three dogs over the age of four months. Cats are also covered by the county’s statutes. Six cats per household is the limit, and only two of them can be fertile.

The county’s animal nuisance laws may also be worthy of consideration if you are planning on changing your place of residence and bringing pets with you. A pet that is prone to excessive barking or caterwauling and annoys neighbors may place you at a disadvantage with local law enforcement.

Sometimes, a divorcing couple might decide to share the custody of their pets until one person is able to secure stable housing or a better financial situation. In the same manner as sharing custody of your children, you may request during the divorce proceedings that an animal live with one spouse for a particular period of the time.

This information is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.