Separating? 5 Tips for Custody of Your Pet

Pet custody battles are very common now when couples find themselves separating. Aside from marital and separate property, custody and support orders, pet custody is another major area that is very emotional and important. While many of us see pets as a part of the family and more than “property” the law has not adjusted and evolved to place them in a category that is higher than inanimate objects. However, the law is coming around to that and it will just be a matter of time.

According to Oxford Journals, even though pets are seen as property, two factors are considered when deciding who will be the primary or only caretaker for the pet: 1) if there exists a history of harm and 2) the emotional bond that each person has with the pet. In some states, judges have become more “open minded” when it comes to pets and divorce and the courts will review evidence and testimony presented by the pet’s owners and may grant shared custody, visitation and even pet support payments.

If you find yourself making a case for custody of your pet – here are 5 tips:

  1. Buyers keepers
    If you paid the adoption fee or breeder for the pet, along with veterinary bills, food and other expenses, you’ll be more likely to be viewed as the primary caretaker.
  2. Care matters
    If you were the one who spent time walking and training, the judge may rule in your favor. Judges want to make sure that a pet goes to a home where s/he is more likely to be happy and healthy.
  3. Ownership is 9/10ths of the law
    You may have heard this when it comes to real property and ownership – Ownership is 9/10 of the law. It works with pets too. If the pet stays with you during the divorce proceedings, the court may view in your favor because you will be seen as the primary caretaker.
  4. Don’t steal
    Emotions can fly high during divorce proceedings but no matter what, do not go to extremes and try to steal the pet from your ex-partner. It’ll reflect badly on you as a responsible person and you may end up with a criminal record.
  5. Consider sharing
    It may not work for all, but just as it does work for some couples with children, sharing ownership of the family dog can be great for everyone.

Image from The Daily Beast

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