Nowadays, 80 percent of owners view their pets as family members, according to a survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). More dogs and cats are adopted from shelters, friends, or relatives, or taken in as strays than are purchased from stores and breeders. Nearly all cat owners and more than half of dog owners describe their pets as mixed breeds or mutts.

In short, pets have increasingly become a part of our families so it’s no surprise that they are now part of our divorces too.

During a collaborative divorce meeting, your lawyer will guide you through an interview process to gather general information about many subjects from assets, like real estate holdings and retirement accounts, to concerns about the children, such as child support and a parenting plan. Therefore, it is not uncommon for the question of “who gets the dog?” to pop up. Unfortunately, all family pets are considered “assets” though we may view them like family members, meaning that it’s likely that one party could be awarded the pet in its entirety!

One of many benefits of getting a collaborative divorce is the ability for both parties to work toward an amicable outcome; of both spouse’s ability to maintain decision-making control rather than having the courts decide their fate. This collaborative environment supports divorcing couples in these types of pet situations, allowing them to include the care and enjoyment of the dog in the divorce settlement.

Some areas that are commonly addressed when pets are involved include:

  • Who will be the primary caregiver, or should it be shared?
  • How should expenses like vet bills, food, and other items be allocated?
  • Should the pet travel with the children between homes?

The collaborative process allows people to create agreements that work for their families. When the family includes pets, the needs of the pets matter, and the role the pet plays in each family member’s life is honored.

Contact the Law Offices of Parnell, Michels & McKay

Our law practice covers every area of family law and includes all divorce and post-divorce issues, unwed parenting and property issues, domestic violence, adoption, guardianships, and other family issues. Our family lawyers ensure that our clients understand the law as it applies to the issues they are facing. We are sensitive to the relationship changing between couples and work to bring the issues to a conclusion promptly and fairly with sensitivity and compassion. Contact our office today and we will help you move forward with your legal separation, divorce, and post-divorce issues.