Dealing With Pet Issues During A Divorce

When you are in the process of getting a divorce, chances are that the thought of who will get to keep the pets will arise. In the eyes of the law, your pet is considered community property, so even though you feel like your pet is family, there are no custody proceedings for pets. Instead, other factors are involved in determining who gets to keep the pets though mediation with your attorneys or through a judge. Here are some suggested ways to deal with determining who gets to keep the pets.

Who purchased the pet?

In many cases, the pet goes with the person who actually paid for it or brought it into the marriage. If you have a receipt proving that you purchased the pet, then you have a good chance of keeping it after the divorce.

Who cared for the pet?

Even if you didn't purchase the pet, you may still get custody if you can prove that you're the one who spent the most time caring for and training the pet. You have to show that you put the most investment, emotionally and financially, into the pet's well-being. You may be able to include witness statements.

Who is the pet bonded to?

Chances are that the pet prefers one person over another and would experience emotional hardship if they were separated from that person. Generally, it's the person who has spent the most time with the pet, but that's not always the case.

What about the children's feelings?

If you have children, think about how your children would feel if the pet was removed from the home they stay at most often. If the children are staying mostly at one home, are the main caregivers, and are also the ones that the pet is bonded to, then it may be better if the pet stays in that home.

Is a "split custody" plan possible?

If you feel that you can get along with your spouse after the divorce, then you may want to consider taking turns keeping the pet. This requires both parties to be fair and equitable and be able to tolerate and work with each other.

Though pets are considered property by law, more courts are beginning to realize the emotional attachment that may pet owners have to their animals. However, it's always best to talk things over with your spouse and your attorney before bringing this issue up in the courtroom. If you are concerned that you will lose your favorite pet, then contact an attorney to see what can be done to make sure that you and your pet are happy.