Pets are becoming more and more like family, with about 70 to 80 million dogs owned and 74 to 96 million cats owned in the United States. As couples continue to divorce over the years, many of them are faced with what to do with their pets. Just because you may treat your pet like a child, the court doesn't do the same. The court sees your pet as just another possession like your furniture or car. Custody battles continue to plague the court system to determine who gets custody of the pet. Not only are couples fighting over custody, but many also fight for visitation. If you are facing a divorce and don't want to lose custody of your pet, here are some things to consider.
When was the Pet Acquired?
During a court battle for a pet, one of the first things the judge is going to look is when the pet was acquired. If one of the parties owned the pet before the marriage, they are likely entitled to the pet after the divorce. Just saying you owned the pet before the marriage may not be enough proof. You want to ensure you have all the paperwork for when you acquired the pet. During the acquisition, you probably signed a paper or received a receipt. This will help show ownership ahead of the marriage.
Who Cares for the Pet?
Pets require routine vet visits in order to maintain their health. In many cases, one party will take primary care of the pet. They will be the ones to walk them, feed them, and take them to the vet. If you are the contact for the vet, this will help show that you are the primary caregiver. You also want to show that you have time to care for the pet on your own. If the other party travels a lot or works long hours, they will have a harder time caring for the pet on a consistent basis.
Is There a Compromise?
While you have a great desire to keep ownership of your pet, your spouse may have a greater desire for something else that is community property. In an effort to gain full custody of the pet, you have to be willing to compromise. If the pet means that much to you, then be willing to take a trade off for something that means a lot to them. Talk to your spouse and see what they are willing to take in place of the pet.
Before going to court, contact a local lawyer, like Kalamarides & Lambert, to help you through this trying process.
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