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How to resolve pet custody in a divorce

You remember the day you brought yours home, and the sleepless nights that followed. When he or she got sick, you visited doctors and worried over medication. You celebrate birthdays together and take holiday pictures together. Coming home from work to see that face makes every day brighter.

For many people, this could be a description of their child — or their pet. Pets are valued and loved members of families all across Raleigh, and pet parents are often fiercely protective of their companion. As such, issues regarding custody of a family pet can lead to contentious battles during a divorce. In this post, we will look at three ways you can approach discussions over pet custody if you are getting divorced.

  1. Treat the pet as property-In the eyes of the law, and as this Forbes article discusses, pets are personal property. If you take this approach, you can decide division based on the animals’ monetary value and what makes sense in terms of equitable distribution. You can also consider which person is better suited to keep the pet with regard to space and financial resources. 
  2. Treat the pet as a child-Taking this approach allows pet parents to prioritize a pet’s best interests. Where will the pet be happiest? Which person will provide the best care? You might even decide to work out a custody or visitation agreement that allows each person to spend time with the pet. 
  3. Let the courts decide-If you cannot or do not want to resolve the matter yourselves, then the courts will make a decision. However, this takes the control out of your hands and puts it in a stranger’s hands. Different judges take different approaches to pet-related issues in divorce, which makes it very difficult to know what to anticipate.

The approach you take will depend on the details of your specific situation and relationships. Every case — and every family — is different.

Unfortunately, pet issues in a divorce can be painful and more heated than you might expect. However, you do not have to work through this or any another divorce-related matter on your own. Instead, you can work with an attorney who can provide guidance and support to help you secure a fair outcome you deserve.