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Divorced Pet Owners: Is Sharing Custody an Option

Many of us become so attached to our pets that we see them as nothing other than family members. That’s why even the idea of parting with a beloved cat or dog after being divorced is heart-wrenching.

If your pet’s important documents list your soon-to-be ex-spouse as their owner, the chances of you losing them after the divorce are fairly high. Is there any way for you to prevent that? Could you seek shared custody of your puppy or kitten after the divorce?

Let’s discuss those topics in greater detail throughout this article.

How Will Shared Custody Affect Your Pet?

Before we discuss a shared pet custody, let’s talk about the impact the arrangement can have on your pet.

Our pets need stability and security; however, divorce causes our pets to experience a significant life change. As pet parents, we must think carefully about what living situation will be best for our pets.

When making custody decisions, consider things like the ages, breeds, number, and personalities of our pets. For example, two closely bonded, active young herding or protection breed dogs would not likely do well separated or in a shared custody arrangement. On the other hand two easy going, younger dogs may do well (after an adjustment period) being separated or in a shared custody arrangement.

You also have to be mindful of your children. Young children likely won’t appreciate being separated from their pets for too long. It’s important to consider that as well while pondering a shared pet custody arrangement.

Can You Get Shared Custody of Your Pet?

Because of the bond with your pet, the idea of shared custody may not seem like an odd proposition. Unfortunately, many states don’t see things the same way.

Currently, only Alaska, California, Illinois, and New York State have laws that allow for joint ownership of a pet following a divorce. Unless you live in one of those states, getting a shared custody agreement for your pet may not be an option.

This article from the law firm Lasher Holzapfel Sperry & Ebberson notes how a recent court decision in Washington State clearly outlines the state’s position on pets. In Washington State, pets are still considered personal property. Many other states see them that way as well.

We are seeing changes in pet-related laws that could make shared custody an option for more people. Still, your state may currently abide by the personal property principle and that could be the determining factor in your case.

Sharing custody of a pet after being divorced is not an option available to everyone in the United States currently. Given its potential impact on your pet, there’s no guarantee that it will be an ideal solution either.

Are you a Tailored Pet Services client? Have you divorced recently? Please contact us after a divorce we can update our records.




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