A Couple’s Best Friend: Tips for Sharing Pet Custody During a Divorce

by Guest Posts

Even under the most amicable of circumstances, divorce is never easy. It can be both an emotionally and financially taxing experience for both spouses. If there are children involved, custody issues can be heart-wrenching. This is why it’s so important for you to hire the best family lawyer you can find, not only to represent your rights as a parent but also to protect the children and their emotional health. 

But what about when beloved pets are involved? Is there a way to share custody of your furry loved ones, also? According to a recent report by DogsBestLife.com, around 50 percent of all U.S. marriages end up in divorce. At the same time, almost 70 percent of U.S. households house some sort of pet. This means there’s going to be an overlap between the two statistics. 

During a divorce, the court will usually consider engineering an equitable and common-sense plan for child custody arrangements, including parenting time. But in the 2020s, pets are still not considered family, no matter how much you love them and they love you.   

This makes it difficult to find an equitable solution to pet ownership when a divorce is taking place. Parental separation can be hard on children, and it can be hard for pets also, especially dogs and cats. 

But there are said to be ways to keep your cherished pet content during the arduous process. Here are a few of them.  

Place Your Pet First

Your decision on how to handle your pet during your divorce should be based on what they need and who can best meet those needs and wants. For instance, if you are remaining in the marital residence while your ex moves into an apartment, it might be better for your pet to remain in its more familiar setting for most of the time. Living in a spacious house will likely mean the pet will have a yard to enjoy and run around in.   

Your first priority should not be what you want, but instead, what’s the healthiest situation for the pet. This means a home that’s free of pests and clean. Always make sure the home is properly vacuumed and free of fleas where it sleeps. 

Focus Should Be Family

When custody and parenting time issues are argued in court, the presiding judge is required to render a decision based entirely on the best interests of the children. While a judge might do the same with a pet if he or she had jurisdiction over it, it’s up to you to decide what’s best. 

When children are involved during a divorce, it’s of paramount importance to keep in mind that they will be going through major changes and even traumas if things are constantly getting heated. 

Divorce is said to impact children emotionally in the following ways: 

–They suffer from confusion

–They suffer from loss

–They suffer from anger

–They suffer from anxiety

There’s simply no prettier way to put it. 

Recent studies are said to have proven that pets can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress in humans, which can serve to keep you in a better mood and maintain a calm demeanor even when you want to explode in rage. 

The children will need as much comfort and love during separation as possible. It only makes sense that your pet should go where the children go. The pets will provide support and love to your kids when they need it most. 

If the situation arises where you get to keep the pet most of the time, perhaps because you have custody of the children, it’s important to keep your self-care clearly in mind also. Divorce isn’t easy, even if it’s an amicable one. Having your furry friend with you will boost your mood and assist you with getting through the terrible grieving process. 

Legalities to Consider

Pets are often considered joint property by the court system. This means that joint custody won’t be an option for you. That is, of course, unless you’ve already signed a prenup prior to marriage, spelling out who gets the dog or cat should a divorce ensue down the road. Here’s what a prenuptial agreement should include, according to DogsBestLife.com: 

–An agreed-upon decision regarding pet custody

–Agreed upon visitation rights

–The names of the individual or individuals who will make the medical decisions on behalf of the pet

–Agreed upon division of assets for providing the pet with what it needs for a healthy life   

If you feel you need to fight for custody of your pet, it’s possible a judge will hear your argument and render a decision. But don’t count on it. You and your ex will likely have to work out the arrangement on your own. Again, think of the pet (and the children) before you think of yourself. 

Divorce can be a hard, if not tragic, period in your life. But the trials and tribulations that come with it are only temporary. Pets can help you and the children get through the emotional turmoil. Make certain you and your ex act maturely and do what’s right for a man and woman’s best friend.

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