Divorce can bring several emotional and sensitive issues to light and how to decide pet custody is just one of those. No matter how you look at it, dealing with this issue is tough. Read on to get a better idea of how the courts treat this tricky problem.
Not Really a Custody Issue
Divorce laws (and almost all laws, in general) are based on ancient provisions. As little as a hundred or so years ago, almost all animals were viewed as assets. Those who farmed counted on animals to provide transportation, the means to plow a field, and food itself. Even though the practice of viewing a cat, dog, or other animals as more than a financial asset has been around for some time, the laws have not been updated. Now, families view animals as beloved members of the family and when a couple parts ways they must make their own allowances for pets or leave it up to the judge.
Create Your Own Pet Agreement
While the legality of a pet agreement in a divorce agreement may not stand up in court, the inclusion of this provision is far better than leaving it up to the judge. If you plan to live fairly near to each other after the divorce, you might consider sharing custody of the pet. Some animals, like dogs, are better suited to being moved around from place to place, however. You can also set up visitation allowing the non-custodial pet parent can spend time with the pet.
Deciding by Using Pets as Property
It may seem harsh, but the law views your pets as marital property, just like the house, car, and sectional sofa. That doesn't mean, however, that the judge is heartless and will simply assign one of you to be the pet custodian without taking into consideration certain issues. The person who best deserves custody of the pet may be the one who:
1. Has been acting as the primary caregiver of the pet – the one who has been walking, grooming, feeding, etc. the pet.
2. Has been the one to take the pet to the veterinarian as needed.
3. Has been the one who received the pet as a gift from the other party.
4. Is the person who is more likely to let the other party visit the pet.
5. Is the person who has a better living arrangement for the pet. For example, the judge might view the situation as the difference in the quality of life for a dog between living in an apartment with no backyard or a home with outdoor spaces.
6. Has physical custody of a child that is attached to the pet.
Speak to your divorce lawyer for more information.