How Do I Navigate Pet Custody Issues During My Divorce?

Top Divorce Lawyer

When a marriage comes to an end, it is rarely only the spouses involved who are affected by the split. Most often, anyone who cares about either or both spouses is affected by the divorce process in some way. These challenges extend to many kinds of pets as well as human loved ones. While a couple’s goldfish may not notice that much has changed, most other animals are sensitive enough to perceive a significant change in their living situations and may even be perceptive enough to sense that their owners are struggling emotionally at this time.

When a couple divorces, both spouses may not want to continue caring for their pets or they may be unable to care for their pets in their new single living situations. But if both spouses are eager to care for their pets and capable of doing so, the issue of pet custody may become a tricky business.

The question of how to handle pet custody disputes is handled differently in different jurisdictions. Some treat pets as marital property, while others nudge closer to the model of child custody determinations, which are decided according to the best interests of the child (or in this case, pet) involved. In general, it is best if pet owners can come up with a custody arrangement between themselves with the assistance of their attorneys. But in the event that a consensus cannot be achieved, the court will be compelled to determine how custody of the affected pet will play out.

When thinking about what kind of pet custody arrangements might work for you and your spouse post-divorce, consider first what would most benefit your pet. For example, if you have a dog who needs access to open space and regular attention, is one of you better able to provide for those needs? Also consider whether it might be possible to share custody, the way one might share child custody. It might seem like an unorthodox approach, but shared custody of pets is becoming an increasingly popular legal solution to this issue. Finally, if you are going to split custody in some way, please think ahead in terms of costs, medical care, vacation protocol and other issues that may become sticking points later. Planning ahead can save you headaches down the road.

Divorce Guidance Is Available

If you have questions about the divorce process generally or pet custody specifically, please consider reaching out to an experienced family lawyer today. Your pet is understandably precious to you, so it is important to work with an attorney who respects the bond you share.

The area of law that governs pet custody is continually evolving, so speaking with an experienced lawyer will better allow you to remain informed about any legal options available to you in regards to property division generally and pet custody specifically during your divorce. Please keep in mind that treatment of pet custody matters tends to vary by jurisdiction, so it is generally a good idea to speak with an attorney in the state where you reside.