People love their fur babies! So while it can be frustrating to figure out who gets to keep the living room furniture, or the retirement account, deciding who gets the dog can result in some pretty savage arguments when both people want the dog. So what do you do? How do you decide which one of you gets to keep the family pets, and who has to go without those fuzzy cuddles in the future? Well, there are a lot of factors you should consider when making that decision…
The decision should be made based on what’s best for the pets
If one of you works twelve hour shifts and has a very busy social life, that person may not be the best person to keep the dog. Another consideration is where you live. Will you still be living in a location that is pet-friendly after the divorce? Wanting to keep a dog and being available to provide that animal with the regular exercise and care it needs to thrive may be two different things. When two people live together, but only one of them is really available and equipped to take care of the pets, ask yourself if that’s likely to change after the divorce. You may really want the dog because you love him dearly, but if your soon-to-be-ex is better equipped to meet his daily needs, wouldn’t it make more sense to let the dog live with the person who has the time and availability for that commitment?
Consider the finances involved in pet care.
When a couple gets divorced, they often go from two incomes to one. Your financial situation is likely to be different after the divorce. So what does that mean when it comes to pet care? Well, your pet will need to be fed, and to have their regular veterinary check ups. Plus, there may be other expenses involved in caring for your pet, like a medical condition that needs to be managed, or regular grooming that takes place for their health. Consider that all of these things add up to being a financial commitment. Can you handle that on your own? Will keeping the family pet after the divorce put a strain on your finances that you can’t sustain? It’s something that needs to be considered when deciding if you can shoulder that responsibility.
Get creative in solving the pet ownership problem.
In cases where both people want the pets, and can provide the space, time and financial commitment required to be good pet owners, you may have to get creative in solving this dilemma. For example, one of our clients came to an agreement with their spouse that after the divorce the family dogs would travel back and forth between the two households with their children. That way, both of them got an equal amount of time with the dogs they loved, and their children got the pleasure of never being parted from their pets. It was a win-win for everyone involved. Being willing to get creative when it comes to figuring out what’s best for your pets and yourself can help you solve the problem with a minimum of fuss.
Remember that the court isn’t going to treat your pets like kids!
As Brandy Thompson, a family lawyer points out, the family court in Michigan doesn’t view your pets in the same way they view your children. “Don’t expect the Court to make a decision with regard to the family pets.” she says. “Often Courts will not get involved. If you are looking to work out a visitation, it is best done through agreement/mediation. Courts are already taxed with determining Custody, Parenting Time and Support of minor children, they often refuse to address family pets other than in the context of personal property”
A lawyer who thinks outside the box can help you find creative solutions
Many of us here at The Kronzek Firm are pet owners, and we completely understand how hard it would be to give up a beloved furry family member. But getting divorced doesn’t mean you have to lose your pets, or that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution that you’re going to get stuck with. We understand what the law requires when it comes to pets, but also how much people can suffer when their beloved animals aren’t part of their everyday family. So if you’re considering a divorce, and are unsure about how to address the issue of your pets, kids or property division, give us a call at 866 766 5245. We’re here to help.