You and your ex may agree on little, but you both adore your pets. Unfortunately, this mutual love can further complicate your divorce, as there are many questions about pet custody that can throw a wrench in your divorce agreement. Some of these questions can include: Where will your pets live? Who will take care of them? Is it possible for both parties to maintain loving relationships with your four-legged companions?
No one solution can accommodate all spouses with pets, as every marriage and divorce case looks different. While it’s up to you and your soon-to-be ex to find an approach that works for your situation, our Maryland divorce attorneys at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC can help provide you with skilled counsel and mediation services to resolve any issues that arise.
Are Pets Community or Separate Property?
Both spouses may not enjoy legal rights to their pets, which are technically deemed property under the law. If one spouse owned pets before marriage, they remain that person's property. If, however, spouses acquired pets after tying the knot, they'll have to negotiate pet custody. Below are a few of the most common solutions we’ve seen over the years for pet custody arrangements.
Joint Pet Custody
With kids, schools and extracurricular activities make joint physical custody tough to carry out. Pets are easier — sometimes. Ex-spouses who live near one another can craft custody and visitation schedules based on their unique lifestyles. Examples include:
- Alternating weeks.
- Alternating months.
- Pets stay one place during the week and another on the weekend.
- Joint custody of pets echoes that of children, allowing kids to consistently reside with their four-legged friend.
Unfortunately, not all pets adapt well to constant changes. Cats are particularly fussy about switching homes so often.
Perhaps your house or lifestyle is better suited to pet ownership than that of your spouse. In such situations, the non-custodial spouse can spend the occasional afternoon with a beloved pet. For example, the non-custodial ex-spouse may arrange for weekly dog walks.
Multiple Pet Concerns
Spouses with multiple pets must determine whether their canine or feline friends can handle living apart. Some pets (especially territorial cats) are actually better suited to solitary living. Others struggle on their own. If you think your pets can handle separation, consider sending one to live with each spouse.
If you’re struggling to split custody of your beloved pets, you're far from alone. This is a common issue that we help couples to resolve in the wake of divorce at the DiPietro Family Law Group. Our trusted Maryland divorce attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience in family law and divorce matters of all types, and we can strive to help you find an equitable and compassionate compromise that keeps your unique pet needs in mind.
Contact us today at (888) 530-4374 for a free consultation in Friendship Heights!