While pets are legally considered “property” in a divorce, it’s no surprise that couples are becoming creative when it comes to pet custody disputes. So what can you and your spouse do and what can courts do when dividing this “property”? Here are some options to consider.
Pet Parenting Plan
Put together a pet parenting plan that can allow you and your ex-spouse regular visitation rights. You should sit down and agree on who pays for vet bills, who will handled the visitation travel, and what days and times work for visitation. Your attorney can then finalize this agreement in the formal written divorce. Keep in mind that even though it is written in the formal agreement, the courts still do no have power to make ordered regarding the custody of pets.
What if a Pet Custody Dispute Arises?
If a pet custody dispute exists and you and your ex-spouse are not able to agree on custody of the pet, the court will step in and make an order regarding the division of this “property.” A court will most likely be more mindful and sensitive regarding this”property,” and will thus probably look into who spends most of the time with the pet, who takes the pet to the vet and to playmates. They might also look at who is closer to the pet, the date of the purchase of the pet, and thus, who is the true owner. This will vary by state.
Attorney and Veterinarian
Pet custody has become commonplace. Make sure you speak with an attorney in your state so that you can gauge how pet custody will be handled in the courts. You might also want to talk to your veterinarian on tips to help the pet adjust to going between two households. Though pets are considered “property,” no doubt they will, just like children, need some consistency between two households.
Source: The Huffington Post, Divorce Confidential: The Fight for Your Pet in Divorce, September 24, 2014