Divorce Attorney: Pet Custody And Visitations

If your divorce involves four-legged family members, figuring out the logistics can bring the process to a halt. A divorce lawyer can create addendums to help you sort out pet custody, visitation, and other important parts of pet ownership.

Custody Classifications

Pet custody generally falls into two categories. The type of custody you choose will largely dictate how your divorce lawyer will approach your case.

  • Joint: If you intend to share custody with your ex-partner, you will need to file for joint custody. This decision will need to be registered when your divorce is finalized. You will also need to report your joint custody to your pet's veterinary provider and/or local Animal Control authorities. If you file for joint custody, you will have the legal authority to make medical decisions and house the pet.
  • Sole: If you intend to gain full custody of your pet(s) or you want to relinquish your custody to your ex-partner, your divorce lawyer can help you make your decision legally binding. In some custody cases, many divorce lawyers encourage their clients to insert language that allows for a clean break. Visitation rights, legal liability, and custody of care should all be remanded to the pet(s)'s sole guardian.

Divvying Up Visitation

In cases involving joint custody, a clear visitation schedule should be established at the time of the divorce. Any ambiguity can result in civil lawsuits that cost both parties considerable time and money.

  • Split: Creating a visitation schedule is fairly easy. If you're aiming for a 50-50 time split, you need to establish when and how you want to exchange custody of the pet(s). Some couples find dog parks or a local shopping center to be less intimate and intimidating than making the trade-off at each party's personal residence.
  • Disruptions: When special circumstances like vacations, emergencies, etc. happen, your visitation schedule is likely to be compromised. Your divorce attorney can clarify the process and procedures required when a disruption occurs.

Planning for Life

Before your divorce is finalized, you and your ex-partner should plan out the remainder of your pet(s)'s lives. This planning should include the following.

  • Annual Check-ups: Who will be responsible for taking your pet and how will you divide the expenses?
  • Vaccinations: How will you handle vaccinations and how will you divide the costs?
  • Major Medical Expenses: If your pet(s) require significant medical treatments, how will you decide how much is too much?
  • End of Life: What type of end of life memorial arrangements will you make?

Contact a divorce lawyer for more information.