For most divorcing spouses in the United States, pets have sentimental value rather than actual monetary value. Disputes over the average dog or cat may be expensive, and they may even lead to litigation – but they do not involve lucrative assets. However, this is not always the case. There are many examples of animals that can generate income for their owners, and disputes over these pets may represent legal battles with much higher stakes. 

Animals That Generate Income Through Performances

Numerous animals generate income through performances. Examples include film animals and dog show performers. Some spouses may rely on their animals to generate income through various performance routines. Perhaps the most obvious example of an income-generating performance animal is a dog or cat that appears in a pet food commercial. Payment for these performances can be quite high. Spouses who live in California may be especially likely to explore these opportunities with their animals due to the state’s connection with the film industry. 

Other animals are full-on actors. These may appear in movies or TV shows, and they are sometimes central to the overall story. These animals can expect to earn more for their owners, and they represent lucrative assets after becoming established within the film industry. 

Income-Generating Farm Animals

In more rural states, animals may be more linked with agricultural income. The obvious example is a cow that produces milk or a chicken that produces eggs. In an era where food inflation is becoming a serious issue among numerous families, it may make sense to maintain ownership of these animals after a divorce. With a steady supply of milk, cheese, and eggs, a spouse can lower their grocery bill by quite a margin. 

Other agricultural animals may generate income through other means. For example, a horse could help an owner generate income via a horseriding business or an equine therapy retreat. 

How Can Spouses Divide Income-Generating Animals?

If an animal can continue to generate income long into the future, spouses should probably avoid selling the animal and splitting the proceeds. For example, the cash value of a chicken might not be very high, and the value of their continued egg production could be much greater. The same logic applies to a dairy cow or a cheese-producing goat. 

An animal with an established presence in the film industry could fetch a greater price on the open market if sold to someone else who recognizes their earning potential. However, most spouses who own performing animals also have a sentimental connection to their pets – making it difficult to sell and split the proceeds with their exes. 

Spouses may agree to continue co-owning the film animal after the divorce. Although this type of arrangement would be quite complex, it would allow both spouses to get a share of the animal’s earnings in the future. 

In an agricultural context, spouses may consider dividing the total number of animals. For example, if the family owns two cows, each spouse would walk away from the marriage with one cow.