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Who gets your family pet when you settle your divorce?

Your family may be one of many in Nebraska who has raised a dog or cat since the animal was newly born. Such pets become like members of the family and parting with your pet may be a thought that makes you terribly sad. Now that you've decided to divorce, you may also want to think about your pet's future, namely, which spouse will get the pet?

Most courts still consider this a property division topic although more and more judges are open to the idea of executing a plan similar to a custody agreement regarding your dog, cat or other family pet. With careful planning and willingness to cooperate and compromise, you may be able to devise a fair and agreeable post-divorce pet plan.

Ideas to consider

On one hand, you might think it would be easier to simply re-home your pet so that you and your ex are not drawn into a fight over it. However, the following list includes reasons why that might not be the best idea for your family, especially if you have children:

  • Pet therapy is a real thing that often helps comfort people in crises. Especially if your kids are having trouble coming to terms with your divorce, having their pet by their side may help them cope.
  • Maintaining a sense of routine and normalcy helps families of divorce adapt to new lifestyles. You'll be facing quite a few changes already; such changes do not necessarily have to include saying goodbye to a pet that you love.
  • You may be able to include pet instructions in your child custody plan.
  • If your kids will be traveling back and forth between two households, you may allow them take their pet with them as well, which means that both parents will share in the responsibility of providing pet care and the burden will not fall to one person only.
  • Perhaps your pet can live with you for part of the year and with your ex for the rest of the time. If you don't have children, this type of arrangement may work best.

Is it possible to find another family to adopt your pet? It might be, but is it necessary? Perhaps, not. If you and your spouse can agree on who will pay expenses for things like pet food, vet bills and other pet-related costs, then you may decide that the best thing for everyone involved is to keep your pet and submit a pet care plan to the court for approval.

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McHenry Haszard Law
1220 Lincoln Mall
Suite 250
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: 402-858-4263
Toll Free : 800-231-3624
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