Pets are more than just property that you purchase and keep. They are often a special and precious part of the family. When you decide to divorce your partner, there is always the question of who gets to keep your pet. This is a question that can weigh heavily on your mind. According to an Insider survey, excessive conflict and arguments are the third-most common reasons for divorce. It is highly likely that there will be arguments about the pet as well.
When one person is willing to give up the pet, and the other is willing to take care of it, then the issue will be resolved quickly. However, things get a bit complicated when both partners want time sharing of a pet. Your divorce lawyer will try as much as possible to show that the pet is better off with you.
In instances where there are disagreements about who gets to keep the pet, there are several things that come into play. The judge may consider who owned the pet prior to marriage and several other factors. Read on to find out more.
How Judges Determine Time Sharing Outcomes for Pet Owners
Usually, the decision of who gets the pet in a divorce depends on how the courts deal with such matters in your jurisdiction. You can take a look at previous cases and see how they were dealt with. Basically, a pet time sharing issue would consider the following:
Who bought the pet, and is there proof of payment?
Who pays for the welfare of the pet, including food, veterinary bills, and pet care essentials?
Who spends a lot of time with the pet?
Is there a history of pet abuse with any of you?
Will pet time sharing affect your children in any way?
Does the pet prefer the company of one more than the other partner?
Sometimes the decision will be based on special circumstances. For example, some animals serve as emotional support animals or service animals. In such instances, the pet cannot be separated from the actual owner. One partner can talk to their divorce lawyer, visit a doctor, and get certified to clarify that the pet is an emotional support animal.
Judges also greatly consider who spent the most on the pet. Therefore, partners will usually gather as much evidence as possible so the divorce lawyer can show that they paid more bills for the pet. It is also important to consider who spent the most time and who is in a better position to take care of the pet. If you need help with your pet decisions during your divorce, be sure to consult with the Affordable Divorce Center.