Pets and divorce: are you going to argue about your animals if you divorce? It doesn’t come along very often, but when it does…it causes MASSIVE arguments.
Non-pet owners won’t get it, but pets are so very much part of the family that clients become as emotional over them as over their children or, in some cases, as if they were their children.
If pets mean problems then here are some things you need to know:
In law, pets are treated as if they were stuff – handbags, spoons, the furniture. A judge has power over them in the same way the judge has power over your house. They may consider who looked after the pet mostly, but they don’t have to. They could even sell the pet away from either party, to convert it into money and split the money equally (we haven’t ever seen that but it is technically possible)
It follows, that in order to obtain a more certain and less brutal outcome, it is best to deal with pets sensibly and without involving a judge.
What to do?
- First, consider who has the legal ownership of the animal. Are there any receipts? Registration documents or other proof of ownership available to show who legally owns the animal? If you are not the legal owner but want the animal maybe you should think about offering fair value for it?
- Secondly, can you do a deal over sharing time with the animal, perhaps if you are sharing care of the kids, the pet should travel with the children.
- Thirdly, being controlling over a pet that means a lot to another person, is a known way that coercion and improper power is used in domestically abusive relationships. Have a think about why you really want the animal? For leverage? To hurt the other person? Is this about your love for Tiddles or is it about the fact that you are hurting so much that you can’t think of any other way to show your pain?
Don’t forget pets cost a lot of money and need attention and company. Are you able to pay for the pet? Are you working all day and not really with the pet?
If you are the kind of person who proposes taking the dog with you but then leaving it alone in the house all day so you can do your hotshot job in the City, then we hope you get fleas. And worms. In your nose.
It’s a real wrench leaving a beloved animal, but the right thing to do is to leave the animal with the people it has most attachment to and the person who can look after it properly. Cut a deal, be sensible and avoid lawyers and courts.