Who gets the family pet in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2023 | Divorce |

According to the CDC, there are close to 700,000 divorces in the U.S. each year. Divorce is a challenging process, and it becomes even more complex when a couple has beloved pets.

Many families view their furry companions as valued members, leading to emotional disputes over pet custody.

The pet’s well-being

The primary concern when determining pet custody should be the well-being of the animal. Consider which party can provide a stable environment, including a safe and comfortable living space, regular exercise and proper veterinary care.

The primary caregiver

Another aspect to consider is which spouse has taken on the role of the primary caregiver for the pet. This includes responsibilities such as feeding, grooming, exercising and attending veterinary appointments. The individual who has been most involved in the day-to-day care of the pet is likely better equipped to continue doing so after the divorce.

Children and their bond with the pet

If divorcing spouses have children, it is important to consider their bond with the pet. Pets often play a significant role in a child’s life, providing companionship and emotional support. Maintaining this bond can help provide stability during a challenging time. In such cases, the parent with primary custody of the children may be the best choice for pet custody as well.

Logistical considerations

Consider which spouse has a living situation that is conducive to having a pet. Divorcing couples should consider factors such as space, accessibility to parks or open areas and the presence of other animals in the household.

Open communication and cooperation

Divorce proceedings are already emotionally charged, and adding a pet into the mix can exacerbate tensions. It is important for both parties to communicate openly and honestly about their desires and capabilities regarding pet custody. Cooperation in making decisions that prioritize the pet’s well-being can lead to a smoother transition for all parties involved.

Deciding who gets the family pet in a divorce is a significant matter that requires careful consideration. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the pet continues to receive the love and care it deserves, even in the midst of a challenging life transition.