Divorce-Who Gets the Pet(s)

Sad Dog

According to law, a pet is considered personal property. But to people who share their lives with pets, they mean so much more. We consider our pets part of our family and that’s where disputes enter into divorce cases.

Because of our strong bond with pets, judges will take into consideration what is best for the pet, which partner can offer the best quality life. A divorce mediator may be called in to help find a solution.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund states that, “…one’s relationship with this particular form of property known as the family cat, dog bird, etc. is much different from one’s relationship with other forms of property such as your couch, your watch or your coffee pot.”

The court must decide who will best care for the animal including food, shelter, exercise, walks, grooming, cleanup, veterinarian checkups, socialization; who is best able to financially meet the pet’s needs. Of course who the pet is most attached to should enter into the decision.

Pets feel the stress of such situations. They thrive best where there is no disruption in their lives – consistency is key to their mental and physical health. But with love and understanding, they are able to adjust to changes.

In a perfect world, the parties involved in the breakup would easily come to a mutual agreement for the sake of the pet, whether it should be joint custody, visitation rights or giving the pet to the party who came into the marriage with the pet or is best able to care for him/her.

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