Divorce can often bring out the worst in many people, and that is only natural when you consider that divorce deals with several emotionally-loaded issues. Child custody, property divisions, and who-owes-what can often be the subject of fierce battles and courtroom drama. When it comes to custody issues, some divorcing spouses place their beloved pets right up there with any minor children on the list of important issues, and that is perfectly understandable; after all, many people consider their pets to be another member of the family. If your divorce seems to be setting the stage for a contentious battle for a pet, read on to learn a bit more about how the law regards pets and divorce.
Not really a custody issue. While you may think otherwise, the law actually considers your pet a piece of personal property and they are often placed in the same category as a car, artwork, jewelry, or a home. You should not, however, let that stop you from attempting to make some special agreements and concessions between you and your spouse that addresses your pet.
Make your own plans. You should understand that not every state or judge will recognize any arrangements you make for custody or visitation of your pet. Family law has no provisions for pets, and any agreement you come to is not likely to be legally enforceable. When creating your own plan, it could come down to some compromises and cooperation between you two pet parents, and you may want to consider some of the following:
- Sharing custody 50/50
- Sharing custody based on who has more time to care for the pet.
- Sharing custody based on who is closer to the pet.
Taking it to court. If you cannot work out some arrangements on your own, it will be up to the judge to make a ruling based on several factors. Even though pets get lumped in with other property, most judges understand the bond between pets and people and is not likely to just make an arbitrary decision. The judge may consider:
- Which person gave more care the animal; who did the walking, feeding, grooming and more.
- Which person took the animal to the vet more often.
- Which person is more likely to allow the other to visit the pet.
- Which person will have physical custody of any minor child who may be attached to the pet.
- Which person can provide an appropriate living environment for the pet, such as a fenced yard or a nearby dog park.
Speak to a divorce attorney from a firm like The VK Law Firm to find out more about dealing with disputes.