Today’s topic is one that is very near and dear to many of our hearts – almost as near and dear as our own children - and that is our pets.
Pets provide love to us and we love them – but in the harsh, cruel world of divorce law – that are merely personal property. Property that must be distributed as part of the property division part of the case.
The statistics on the custody fight over the pets are very interesting. A 2014 study done by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that cases involving litigation over pets have increased by 22% over the last several years.
So all of that being said – how will this be handled – or how can you handle it yourself:
1. If you’re still married, you might want to think about a written agreement now while you’re still getting along. While “custody” prenuptial or postnuptial agreements are not generally enforcement when they are pertaining to children, they are definitely enforceable as to property, i.e. your furry family member.
2. Even if you are divorced, you can still come up with a “custody” arrangement if you want. I have seen some people say that the dog travels with the kids – so whenever the children are exchanged then dog would go along. Or you can come up with a schedule that’s just for the pets if you want.
3. If you do come up with a “shared custody” type of arrangement, make sure to designate who will be responsible for veterinary bills, food, shots, flea and tick medicine, etc. If it is shared, make sure to include language that says something like, “if one party incurs a bill and pays the entire bill, then that person has 30 days to present the paid bill to the other party, and then the other party has 30 days from the date of receipt to reimburse the other party.” Make sure to designate the pro rata split, i.e. 50/50; 60/40 or other.
4. If a judge is forced to make the decision, the judge will have to look at things that indicate which party is more the owner of the pet. So the judge might look at adoption papers; checks written for expenses; who cared more for the pet and other indicia of ownership.
In the end, try to remember to make sure the pet is continuously well cared for and think of what is best for him or her. For example, if one party works super long hours and the other doesn’t, don’t take the pet just for spite and then have him or her just sitting home alone all day. Just with the rest of the case, a little common sense, courtesy and consideration will go a long way toward getting you toward that end goal of an amicable, inexpensive divorce. That way you can be that much closer to starting your new life.
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Thanks for joining me today. I give tips, tricks and divorce secrets every day. If you enjoyed this, please head on over to my youtube channel and hit subscribe. Also please check out www.breakingfreefromdivorce.com for ways to be supported in your divorce.
I will see you tomorrow for Wednesday Divorce Wisdom where I will discuss How to Deal With Exes and Steps Post Divorce.
Until then, remember you’re just one step away from your new life. Together, we’ve got this.
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