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Who Keeps the Pets in Divorce?

pet custody

Couples often share not only children but also beloved pets. While child custody is a primary focus in divorce proceedings, the fate of those pets is also significant for many couples.

Unlike children, pets are considered property under the law, so custody decisions are based on factors like primary caregiver, living situation, and the pet’s best interests. Courts aim to ensure the pet’s well-being while considering each spouse’s ability to care for the animal.

When spouses cannot reach a mutual agreement regarding pet custody, the court will intervene and make a determination based on several factors. Those include each party’s ability to care for the pet and the animal’s best interests.

What Factors Influence Pet Custody Decisions?

Courts consider several factors to protect the animal’s well-being when determining pet custody. They may prioritize the spouse who primarily cared for the pet during the marriage, including feeding, grooming, and veterinary care. The court also assesses each spouse’s living arrangements and whether they can provide a suitable environment for the pet. Those determining factors might be adequate space, safety, and outdoor access.

The pet’s welfare will also be prioritized when making custody decisions. The following may be considered:

  • The animal’s attachment to each spouse.
  • It’s physical and emotional needs.
  • Any unique requirements or medical conditions.

If spouses can agree on a custody arrangement for their pet, the court will typically honor their wishes as long as it is deemed reasonable and in the pet’s best interests.

How Can Couples Reach Acceptable Agreements About Pet Custody?

To avoid contentious legal battles over pet custody, couples can explore alternative dispute resolution methods, like mediation or collaborative divorce. These approaches encourage open communication and cooperation between spouses to negotiate a mutually acceptable custody arrangement for their pets.

By working together with the guidance of experienced legal professionals, couples can develop creative solutions that prioritize the pet’s welfare and minimize conflict throughout the divorce process.

What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Keeping My Pet?

If keeping your pet is a top priority, there are steps you can take to strengthen your case:

  • Keep records of your involvement in caring for the pet, including feeding schedules, veterinary visits, and expenses incurred.
  • Outlining your plans for the pet’s care and well-being post-divorce will show the court that you are dedicated to providing a loving and stable home.
  • Try to reach a mutually agreeable custody arrangement with your spouse outside of court. Emphasize the importance of maintaining the pet’s routine and minimizing disruption to its life.
  • Consult with experienced divorce attorneys who can provide tailored advice and advocate for your interests in negotiations or court proceedings.

Taking proactive steps and seeking appropriate legal counsel can improve your chances of reaching a favorable outcome. The goal is to ensure the continued presence of your beloved pet in your life after divorce.

Contact a Paramus Divorce Lawyer at Torchin Martel Orr LLC for Experienced Legal Guidance on Pet Custody Issues

If you are facing a divorce and are concerned about pet custody, an experienced Paramus divorce lawyer at Torchin Martel Orr LLC will provide a confidential consultation. Complete our online form or call us at 201-971-4866 to learn more. Located in Paramus, New Jersey, we serve clients in Bergen County, Morris County, Essex County, Hudson County, and the surrounding towns in northern New Jersey.