What if you are getting a divorce and you and your spouse have a pet that you both love? Determining who gets custody or the pet in a divorce can be a devastating and emotional decision.
Determining Pet Custody
Laws are designed to protect the best interests of human children in divorce (allowing for shared custody, visitation, and alimony), the laws for pets are intended to benefit the owner instead. Under the law, pets are considered to be personal property, capable of human ownership and control. Courts working under that law only strictly have the authority to award a pet to one owner or the other. To grant shared custody or visitation of the couple’s pets would be exactly the same, in the eyes of the law, as having them trade their television back and forth from one week to the next. If one spouse adopted the pet before marriage, he or she will retain custody of the pet after the divorce. If the couple adopted the pet together after marriage a judge will consider the unique circumstances to make a decision. Things that may affect who gets the pet include…
- Who will be living in the family home? – That could be a big factor. Where each spouse will live after the divorce. Will both of you have a nice yard for the dog? The spouse with the larger home may be the judge’s preference to take the pet.
- Will one spouse be moving abroad? – Local laws could affect whether you can bring a pet. If one spouse is moving, the judge will probably decide the pet is better suited to live with the other spouse.
- Who was the pet’s true caretaker? – Who walked the pet? Who took the pet to the vet? Who shopped for the pet’s food and supplies? Who cleaned up after the pet? He or she may be more likely to receive custody of the pet.
- The pet’s best interest – The judge will choose the pet parent and home that is best suited for the pet.
Consider Splitting Dog Custody
Creative pet custody arrangements made by the two of you could be the best decision. Come to your divorce hearing with the decision made by the two of you about your pet’s custody. Be flexible and willing to compromise. Maybe one spouse would agree for the other spouse to have custody to keep the pet anytime that the custodial owner is out of town or has a busy week. Or maybe a friendly “dog share” that allows each plenty of time with their beloved pet, one month on, one month off. Of course, the dog must be an easygoing guy who does fine with all the back-and-forth. With a little foresight, and by keeping the best interests of your pet at heart, you can help make the difficult process of divorce a little bit more bearable for the whole family, and everyone will come out happier in the end.
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About Grubbs & Landry
At Grubbs & Landry, PLLC, we are dedicated to personal and friendly service. We manage our practice in an ethical, cost-effective manner to best help our clients resolve their legal issues with the least expense possible. We pride ourselves in advocating for our client in divorce, child custody, and child support matters as well as other family law matters. We are active in prosecuting personal injury cases-recovering for the injuries our clients sustain due to the negligence of others. Additionally, we help our clients prepare for the future through the preparation of Wills, Power of Attorney and Living Will.
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