The question of what happens to pets following a divorce usually never comes up when a couple is adopting the pet. Unfortunately, though, couples do break up, and they are often left to battle it out over who retains custody of the pets. If you and your partner are separating, here are some tips to help with deciding what happens with the pets.
Know the Law
Depending on the state in which you live, there might not be specific laws in place that provide a guideline for deciding custody of a pet. Your pet could be seen as property, which means either you or your partner retains ownership. However, this does not mean that the laws in your particular county have not provided a way for you and your partner to work out custody and visitation for a pet.
As more couples are asking for intervention from individual courts pet custodial cases, more precedents are being set that can be relied upon to help decide matters. To determine if there is a legal precedent that applies to your situation, you will need to research cases in your county and state. It is possible that with the influence of another court case, a judge might be willing to set an agreement in place.
Create a Parenting Plan
Before asking a court to intervene and set a custodial and visitation arrangement, you and your partner should work on a parenting plan. In child custodial parenting plans, matters, such as who has the child on certain days and who makes medical decisions, are detailed. Your pet parenting plan should be no different.
It is important to note that the parenting plan is designed for both parents to have a say in what happens with the pet. As such, both of you need to be willing to negotiate the terms of the agreement. If not, a judge who is not familiar with your pet's needs could be the decider in what happens with it.
Build a Case for Custody
If you and your partner are unable to work out an agreement, you need to be able to argue for custody of your pet in court. You will need to present evidence to the court that supports why you should be the custodial pet parent.
There are several ways you can prove this. For instance, you could obtain a statement from the vet stating that you were the one who always attended appointments with the pet. You could also produce receipts for pet products you purchased and provide witness statements detailing how you have mainly cared for the pet.
Separating from your partner does not mean you have to give up on your relationship with your pet. Work with your family law attorney to determine the legal options available to you when it comes to custody.
For more information, contact Ivy Law Group PLLC or a similar organization.