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How Can I Create a Pet Custody Plan?

Property division is a big part of the divorce process. People will expect things like houses, cars, and other assets to be divided up as equitably as possible, but not everyone realizes that pets can be a part of this process as well. Our furry friends are often considered property in the eyes of the state, so if you want to make sure that you can keep a pet in the divorce you may want to speak to our Morris County, NJ divorce lawyers about how you can make a pet custody plan.

Will the Court Decide on Pet Custody?

The court can decide on pet custody, but we have to emphasize that pets are primarily considered property. That means that instead of being about the pet’s best interest, who gets the pet might be more dependent on what would be more “fair” given who got what property already.

If you and your spouse are able to, you might be better off negotiating pet custody on your own. You can make your cases for custody in mediation sessions. Then an agreement could be drawn up that clearly says who gets custody of the dog, cat, or hedgehog you raised together as a married couple.

How Can I Show That I Should Get Pet Custody?

If you want to push for pet custody, it is important to show that you were the primary caregiver for it. So it is great if you can show things like:

  • Pet adoption papers in your name only
  • Vet bills were mostly paid by you
  • Other pet care costs, like food and grooming, were covered by you
  • You spent the most time with the pet

Sometimes a paper trail can help you prove your point. Sometimes we can turn to witnesses who can attest to the amount of time you spend with a pet and how you made its care a top priority.

Can We Share Pet Custody?

In some cases, couples decide to share pet custody after a divorce. If you and your former spouse live near each other and both have homes that would be comfortable for your pet, you may be able to find an arrangement that works for all of you.

You just have to be patient co-parents and make sure that you can work through any problems as they come up. It might be wise to factor in who pays for which pet-related expenses when you draw up a shared pet custody agreement. You may also want to include provisions for what happens if one of you moves or what happens if the pet gets sick or injured.

Contact Our Legal Team

If you have any questions about pet custody or property distribution, our team is ready to assist you. Contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark to schedule your consultation today. We would be happy to tell you more about how we can help you.