When people adopt pets, something magical seems to happen. A bond between a human and a cat or dog can be so strong that some people even report loving their pet more than their partner. If the ties that bind in a marriage break, the ties that you have to your canine or feline companion may seem more important than ever. Here are the do's and don'ts for establishing a pet custody agreement when you are facing a breakup or divorce.
Do Keep the Best Interests of the Pet in Mind
It's only natural to respond to the emotional pressures of a divorce by wanting your pet by your side no matter what. However, what some people fail to do when fighting for pet custody is to consider what would be best for the pet. Does one partner live in a home with a fenced-in backyard that can provide the best life for a dog? Does one partner travel out of town frequently, resulting in a lot of boarding? Try to present the facts for what you think is best for the pet when discussing custody with your ex. Be fair and bring up the things on both sides that are positives for your pet.
Don't Rush to Court in Most Situations
Resolving pet custody disputes directly with your ex is best. Divorce courts will treat your pet like property in many situations. That can be infuriating since they are members of the family. Also, a court ruling can be close to a final decision, and it leaves little room for some of the personal nuances of the relationship between you, your ex, and your pet.
Do Put the Pet Agreement in Writing
Talking about what you will do when you separate is one thing, but you need the formality of a written pet agreement that both parties agree to and sign. Consult a divorce lawyer for the specifics on what the agreement should include and to ask questions about current pet custody laws. Keep in mind that it must be as detailed as possible, and it should include specifics on where the pet will live and how his needs will be met.
Finally, keep in mind that developing a pet custody agreement with your ex is an art, not a science. There are bound to be bumps along the way, but try to keep the well-being of your pet at the center of the discussions above the anger that is inevitable during a divorce. If you can do that most of the time, you're way ahead of the game and deserve a pat on the back. Your pet would thank you.