Unlike children, pets are considered property by the U.S. judicial system, so when you get a divorce the pets are thrown in with the furniture, the microwave oven and the above-ground Jacuzzi. Getting custody of your pet in a divorce might be challenging if there is a major dispute, so here are a few tips to give you the edge.
Get Custody of Your Pet in a Divorce: When Was the Pet Purchased?
In most cases, pets who were purchased before the marriage will be retained by the partner who bought it. If you were the one to bring the pet into the marriage, then you will probably leave with it. In most cases, however, the pet was acquired during the marriage, which means that other factors will come into play.
Get Custody of Your Pet in a Divorce: Where Will the Children Live?
Courts tend to place pets in the same residence where the children will live because kids form bonds with their pets from day one. If the children will be residing with you, then you have a better chance of getting custody of the pets. Be able to demonstrate a close bond between your animals and your children in order to win the sympathy of the courts.
Get Custody of Your Pet in a Divorce: What Does Your Ex Want?
If possible, settle the pet custody dispute outside of court by talking with your ex. If he or she is amenable to the idea of letting you have custody, then you don’t have a problem. Explain that you really would enjoy having the pets, and that you’d be happy to allow visitation if that is an option.
Get Custody of Your Pet in a Divorce: Who Took Care of the Pet?
If you were the main person to care for the pet in your home, then you will have a better chance of retaining custody. Were you the one to feed the pets? Take them to the vet? Walk them in the evenings? The adult with the most responsibility concerning the pets will have the greater advantage.
Get Custody of Your Pet in a Divorce: Are the Pets Show-Quality?
If you have pets that are show-quality animals and you use them for income, such as in competition or for breeding, then you might be able to get custody, but you might also have to split any future income with your ex. If you have pictures of you showing the animal, or if you have records that you’ve spent money on competitions, then make sure those evidentiary documents are produced in court.
Get Custody of Your Pet in a Divorce: Do You Have Adequate Resources?
You might also have to show the court that you are physically able to care for the pets. Is your home large enough? Do you have a fenced backyard? Do you earn enough money to purchase food and take it to the vet? These factors are important, so make sure you can demonstrate your ability to meet those demands.
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