It has been often said that dog is man’s best friend. In truth, any pet can serve as an individual’s friend or family member, depending on the relationship that the pet’s owner seeks to cultivate with his or her charge. It is for exactly this reason that navigating pet custody issues can be so emotionally wrenching and practically complex when a couple splits up. If both former romantic partners are interested in maintaining at least partial custody of any animal or animals affected by the split, coming to a resolution related to this situation can be tricky.
It is worth noting that the area of law concerning pet custody has evolved significantly over the past decade. Some states treat pet custody matters primarily as property division concerns, while others treat pet custody challenges like they do child custody challenges. Still, other states embrace a hybrid approach wherein pets enjoy a more substantial status than inanimate property but are treated with less careful consideration than human children are.
If you and your romantic partner are splitting up (via divorce, legal separation or an informal breakup), you may benefit from consulting an experienced family law attorney in your area. A lawyer will be in the best position to inform you about how pet custody issues are treated in your state and advise you of any legal options that may be available to you.
If it is possible for you and your former romantic partner to agree on custody arrangements for your pet, this is likely the ideal option for everyone involved. You know what your pet needs and are in a better position than a judge would be to determine exactly how your pet can continue to thrive under the circumstances. Of course, if an agreement isn’t possible, an attorney can help you mediate, negotiate or ask for judicial intervention in your case. But if you can reach an amicable agreement (which your attorney can help to make legally binding and enforceable) this may be best.
When considering a pet custody agreement, think about all the challenges involved in “co-parenting” your pet. How will you handle travel, medical care, and general expenses? Who will get your pet on holidays and vacations? If you go out of town, will your “co-parent” assume care of your pet or will you be responsible for pet sitting costs? Considering these issues now will help to mitigate tensions later.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about pet custody specifically or divorce matters generally, please consider scheduling an initial consultation with an experienced family attorney Collin County, TX relies on. Just as every marriage is different, every divorce is different. As a result, it is generally important to educate an attorney about your specific circumstances and obtain experienced legal guidance before committing to any specific divorce-related approach. Once an attorney understands your situation, he or she will be able to advise you in regards to any legal options that may be available to you.
Contact Scroggins Law Group, PLLC for their insight into family law and pet custody during divorce.
*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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