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How is pet custody decided during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2021 | Divorce |

Even relatively amicable divorces have challenges. This is especially true when it comes to things like property division and child custody. While you and your former spouse might have the best intentions, figuring out these matters can still provide difficultly.

One aspect of divorce that many people forget about is what to do with the family pet. According to Kiplinger, decisions about family pets during divorce are often the hardest to make. Additionally, standards for deciding pet custody have changed quite a bit over the last few years. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you and your ex are pet owners.

Pets as property vs. the best interest of pets

For many years, courts looked at pets as property when it came to divorce cases. That means that the person who could establish financial ownership of the animal would receive custody, regardless of emotional matters.

These days, more courts consider the best interests of the pet, similar to the standards applied to child custody cases. Instead of solely determining ownership, courts consider which arrangements are best for the well-being of the animal.

How to develop a pet custody agreement

The best course of action for pet owners is to arrive at court with a written custody agreement in place. These agreements should include visitation schedules, travel considerations, and dispute resolution strategies. For example, if you and your ex cannot come to terms with an issue, you can name an impartial third party to act as mediator.

Also, make sure there is language regarding who gets to make medical decisions on behalf of the animal. This is a major consideration to ensure your pet receives timely medical treatment when needed.