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Dealing with "pet custody" in divorce

Pet owners do not often think of their pets as "property," but in a court of law, that is exactly what they are. This is why pet owners in Connecticut and beyond are starting to challenge traditional divorce law when it comes to the question of which spouse gets a pet in the event of a separation. It can be very helpful for spouses to think about this arrangement ahead of filing for divorce, as the more issues that can be solved ahead of time, the fewer roadblocks there will be on the path to single living.

The courts still consider pets to be the property of the couple, which means the animal is subject to the same asset division laws that govern any other inanimate asset. Of course, one cannot divide a pet equally, so some couples are arranging a "custody"-style situation, in which time with the pet is split equitably. Some couples elect to alternate weeks while others have more complicated solutions. 

If "joint custody" is to be arranged, however, it will be important for both individuals to agree upon some of the finer details of that arrangement. For example, the question of veterinarian bills must be addressed, as must food, grooming and walking. In this way, the analogue of child custody is not far off the mark. Having these details sorted out prior to the divorce filing can be very helpful. 

Divorce is a reality for many Connecticut residents, and with a separation comes a variety of challenges a couple might not think about beforehand. Whether the couple deals with pet ownership, home ownership or child custody, it can be helpful for both individuals to seek out support related to these issues. Foreknowledge and professional guidance can make a huge difference in reaching an equitable divorce settlement.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: Crafting a Creative Pet Parenting Plan", Caroline Choi, Nov. 19, 2014

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