A divorce can be extremely traumatic for everyone involved – the adults, the children and even the pets. In many cases, the adults involved will have to figure out a new living and support situation for the dependents involved. 

According to statistics, roughly 1 in 2 children will see their parents’ marriage end. Unfortunately, the number of dogs losing a family unit may be higher. Because of how high these numbers are, it’s important to have a plan in place for how custody and support should be handled going forward. This can include not only the children, but the family’s dog as well. If there are no legal stipulations set, it will be up to the adults to figure out a custodial plan for the pet. Learn more here about how to split custody for your pet.

Pets are Typically Seen as Property

Historically, the law views pets as being considered property, like how a piece of furniture is viewed. According to an Orange County divorce attorney from Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, LLP, “… divorce is more complicated than simply signing papers and entering the next phase of your life. It involves the division of property and assets – which is often confusing and quarrelsome.” During the divorce process, the court would look into who had the most financial input into the care and maintenance of the pet. This would include things such as vet bills, grooming bills, and registration fees. The person that had the most financial investment in the pet would be the most likely to get custody, regardless of emotional attachment. During this process, attorneys may work to prove the following examples: 

  • Present one person as being devoted to the dog, with examples of love and care.
  • Show proof of which client paid most of the veterinary bills
  • Offer proof that the other party neglected or abused the animal
  • Prove that the dispute may be motivated by revenge instead of affection of the dog

What is a Pet Custody & Sharing Agreement?

A pet custody and sharing agreement can be a formal or informal agreement between two parties that outlines the care and housing of a pet. According to tips provided by a family law specialist, these helpful tips can help get to a “new normal” that much quicker.

  1. Have a detailed or evenly overly specific agreement.
  2. Outline the weekly schedule of custody and include who is in charge of the bigger decisions such as emergency medical decisions. 
  3. Make a set agreement on whether an animal can be taken out of state.
  4. If you have a disagreement or are unsatisfied with the custody terms, specify a mediator who can help resolve the situation.

Divorce is hard enough without facing the loss of your furry best friend. Fortunately, many courts today understand the significance of a relationship with a pet and do not take making this decision lightly. With the help of a family law attorney, you can figure out a solution that leaves everyone satisfied.

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