Who gets custody of your furry four-legged family members?
Pets become like children during a marriage, and now you have to figure out how to split up the family in a way that causes the least hurt for everyone involved, humans and animals alike.
This isn’t an easy process, but with open communication, flexibility, and by prioritizing the wellbeing of your pets, you can come to an agreement that you’ll both be at peace with.
Here are some tips to help you navigate pet custody and make the best choice for your whole family.
Consider What’s Best for the Pets
Deciding who gets custody of your pets after a divorce is tough. As difficult as it is, focus on what’s in the best interest of your furry family members.
Consider each person’s ability to properly care for the pets. Who has more time to devote to feeding, exercising, grooming, and playing with them?
If one person works long hours away from home, the pets may be better off with the other owner.
Think about each person’s living situation and how well it suits the animals’ needs. Things like space, access to outdoors, proximity to vet care, and safety are all important. If there are kids involved, assess how the pets interact with each household. Their comfort level matters too.
Discuss each other’s willingness to allow visitation. Letting the pets continue to see both owners can make the transition easier and help them feel secure in their new home. Be open to compromise by sharing custody if you’re able.
Don’t forget that rehoming the pets should always be an absolute last resort. With care, understanding and by prioritizing their wellbeing, you can make this difficult life change as easy as possible for your faithful companions.
Focusing on the pets, not the people, is the key to an arrangement you can both feel good about.
Look at Who Takes Care of the Pets
When deciding who gets custody of the pets after divorce, a big factor to consider is who has been primarily responsible for their care.
If one person typically handles walking, feeding, bathing or taking the pets to vet appointments, that demonstrates a level of commitment that should be taken into account.
For example, if you’re the one who gets up early to walk the dog every morning, or stays home during the day to let them out, you have a good case for being the primary caretaker. Make a list of the daily, weekly and monthly duties for your pets and honestly assess who does what.
Don’t forget less frequent responsibilities like purchasing food, toys, and other essentials or scheduling annual checkups.
The judge will consider this practical division of responsibilities very seriously when determining what living situation will cause the least disruption for the animals. If custody is awarded to the non-primary caretaker, they may require a transitional period where the primary caretaker still helps care for the pets to ensure their needs are met during the adjustment.
When discussing pet custody, try to be reasonable and focus on what’s best for the pets rather than what you want. Be prepared to compromise, as joint or split custody where you share responsibilities may be an option.
The wellbeing of your furry family members should be the top priority here. After all, they’re innocent in this whole situation and deserve as much stability and love as possible.
Keep the pet’s with the children
When deciding who will get custody of the family pet in a divorce, the wellbeing of any children involved should be a top priority.
Kids form strong bonds with their pets, so keeping them together can help provide stability during this difficult transition. Allowing the children to keep their faithful furry friend will give them a source of unconditional love and comfort.
If the pet has traditionally acted as an emotional support animal for either spouse or the children, this is an important factor to weigh heavily in the decision making process. The pet’s role in providing mental and emotional support should not be discounted or taken lightly.
Keeping the pet with those who benefit most from their calming presence may help ease anxiety, stress and upset during and after the divorce.
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Of course, the ability of each spouse to properly care for the pet’s needs is also critical. Things like who typically handles responsibilities such as feeding, walking, grooming, vet care and training should be considered. If one spouse was primarily responsible for these day-to-day duties, they may be in the best position to continue providing a stable environment and high quality of life for the pet.
In some cases, shared custody where the pet splits time between two households may be an option. This works best if the spouses live in close proximity and can agree on a harmonious schedule. For the wellbeing of the pet, consistency and minimzing stressful transitions is key.
If shared custody won’t work, the next best solution is to choose the home that is in the pet’s best interest based on their needs, environment and the strength of their bond with family members.
The most important thing is that the pet feels loved, secure and able to maintain a good quality of life post-divorce. Taking the pet’s happiness and wellbeing into account will help ensure the best outcome for all.
So there you have it, some tips to help figure out who gets custody of your furry family members.
While it may not be the most pleasant discussion, approaching it with empathy, honesty and fairness will help ensure the best outcome for your pets’ wellbeing and your future co-pet parenting relationship.
Compromise when you can, prioritize the animals’ needs, and try to set aside your differences for their sake. Though your marriage didn’t work out, you’ll always share the bond of being their lifelong caretakers. If you get stuck, you could consider using a mediator. But with patience and good faith, you can develop a shared custody solution you both feel good about.
Your pets gave you unconditional love when you were together, so now it’s your turn to return the favor. Work as a team and you’ll get through this challenging time knowing you did right by your faithful companions.