Furry Family Members Heighten Emotional Divorce Disputes
For some couples, a pet is one of the first things they share. By purchasing a cat, dog, or other household pet, two crazy newlyweds become a family. Pairs bond over picking what to name their furry friend. They divide up the responsibilities, like vet visits, feedings, and dog walks.
All of a sudden, the love you share with each other is now shared with a new family member–your pet. Although in your eyes, these loveable animals are members of the family and almost equivalent to children, in the eyes of the law, they are still considered property.
This becomes especially evident when a couple begins the divorce process.
According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there has been a distinct increase in pet custody battles. Amongst all household pets, dogs are quarreled over the most during divorce. And even though divorce courts still considers them to be property, that has not stopped some judges from allowing pet custody cases, reports 22 percent of the surveyed attorneys.
Just like child custody disputes, the aftermath of a divorce goes along a lot smoother when ex-spouses come to an agreement and create parenting plans, not only for children, but also for the pets. Financially and emotionally, things are best worked out through discussion with one another.
Although emotions are running high and parting with your pet seems too much to bear, sometimes it is best to step back and ask yourself an important question that ultimately matters the most: what is the best option for my pet in terms of their health, happiness, and general well-being?
A recent Huffington Post blog discusses the possibility of pet parenting plans as a viable option and suggests some options of what to include. You and your ex-spouse need to consider the financial responsibilities, like vet bills and food costs. You need to figure out visitation, whether it is regular or sporadic. Many couples even use custody plans similarly used for child custody, like the ones mentioned in our previous blog concerning joint custody.
As a St. Louis, Missouri divorce attorney, I interact with couples on a daily basis that are struggling with these difficult decisions about their beloved pets. If you and your spouse are also contemplating a pet-parenting plan, but are struggling with negotiations, contact Bardol Law Firm, LLC for mediation or to seek ideas about successful parenting plan options.