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How does pet custody get dealt with during divorce?

To many couples the issue of pet custody may seem trivial. These families likely don't have pets and simply don't see the value in either owning one or the inherent issues to having a pet in the middle of a divorce. You can't begrudge them for not knowing or caring -- they simply don't understand a pet owner's point of view.

Pet owners deal with a lot during the life of their pets, and if they got the pet with a significant other before or after marriage, then there can be some profound emotional issues at play when pet custody is brought up during divorce proceedings. In most cases, if the owners of the pet can't settle on something outside of court, then the pet will be treated as a piece of property for legal purposes. That creates serious problems, because this means only one person ends up with the pet.

You and your spouse should sit down and have extensive, civil discussions about the pet in your life if you are divorcing. A compromise could be reached that not only allows for you and your spouse to share custody of the pet, but you can make considerations in your pet custody agreement on support payments and other financial considerations.

It may sound silly, but these pet custody arrangements are serious and very important to many divorcing couples all across the country. If you have a dog, cat or other pet and you and your spouse are divorcing, don't panic: there are ways to deal with pet custody.

Source: Animal Legal & Historical Center, "Custody of Pets in Divorce," Accessed Aug. 1, 2016

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Goddard & Malmquist
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