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Divorcing with kids: Who gets the family pet?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2021 | Family Law |

One big problem some parents run into is how to divide the time with a family pet between homes when their children are switching back and forth. Pets are largely considered to be property, which means that it’s likely that one of the parents will “win” it in the divorce. For all intents and purposes, the pet would then live with them and stay with them at all times.

That’s not always what’s best for the kids, though, so it might be a good idea to talk about setting up your pet on a similar custody schedule with your children. For example, if you have a small dog that can travel back and forth, it may be simpler to have the dog travel with your children, so they can have that pet there for a sense of normalcy regardless of which home they’re in.

What if the family pet can’t travel or there is another problem?

Sometimes, the family pet won’t be able to travel. There could be another problem, too, like the pet not getting along with one of the children or having one parent who is allergic and who would rather the other parent take over caring for it. In those cases, it’s a good idea to talk to your children about their expectations and the reality of what will happen. If the family dog will stay at mom’s house, then the children will need to visit to see the pet. If the dog doesn’t get along with one of the children, then it might need to be transferred to the other home during the custody exchange or even rehomed safely.

While pets aren’t kids, pets are part of the family. If your children love being with your pet or you have one to consider in your divorce, think carefully about how you want to house it to keep it in your children’s lives.

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