Who Gets the Family Pet in A Divorce?

January 6, 2017Diana Lengerson


Photo by Winsker, CC0 1.0

So, you’ve gone through your divorce proceedings and began to divvy up who gets what from the divorce. Someone gets the house, the other gets the car, and so on and so forth.

But there’s someone else that you’ve forgotten. No, not the kids, but someone close.

Yes, the fate of the family pet needs to be determined during divorce proceedings as well. However, the courts look at your pet differently than you do.

See, you probably think of your pet as a second child or even your only child. He or she is someone that you look after with incredible love and respect. You take him or her to the doctor when they’re sick. You buy them some of the best dog food on the market to help them stay healthy. You even buy them toys every week, even though they’re going to be destroyed the instant they get a hold of the toys.

Read on to discover what the courts have to say about this issue and how to handle it. Once you’re done and if you’re in the Austin area, reach out to the best Austin Divorce Attorney there is to get the best outcome in your divorce.

  1. What Does the Court Say?

But the court views animals simply as another possession of yours. No different from the toaster in your kitchen or the car in your garage. And that can be confusing to a lot of couples who see their family pet as needing the same custody battle as with children.

Because of the sheer amount of other custody cases involving children, the courts simply don’t have enough capacity to deal with animals in the same way. So, it’s likely that when you go through divorce proceedings, your family pet is going to be dealt with in the same manner of your other possessions.

  1. How Do the Pets Deal with All This?

Even if you might not think about it, your pet is going to face similar stress as your children when divorces happen. Especially if you’re really close with your pet, they may show the following signs of stress from a divorce that you should be aware of:

  • They may start to sleep a lot more than usual. You can always tell when it’s time for your pet to go to sleep and wake up because it’s normally at the same time every day. When divorces are happening, you might see them sleep more often.
  • Another factor that may be a symptom of depression in your pet is the loss of appetite. At dinner time, you may notice that your pet just doesn’t eat as much as usual and that should be a cause for concern.
  • They may lose interest in the daily activities you do with them. From walks to playing around outside, you might notice they seem uninterested in what you have to offer.
  1. How Can I Help My Pets Cope with Divorce?

The best way that you can help your pet cope with the divorce proceedings is by making sure the decision that you come to is in the best interests of your pet. You and your soon to be ex-spouse should put your feelings aside and come to an agreement based on any number of factors, including who fed the pet the most, who cared for him or her most often, and who made the decision to buy or adopt them.

No matter what happens, try to keep your pet’s familiar routine going. That familiar routine of the time to eat, time to go to bed, and time to play is one of the most comforting things for our pets. When that is disrupted, that’s when their depression can kick in.

If you have more than one pet, it’s best that they stay together as much as possible. If they grew up together, taking them apart is going to be really detrimental to their overall well-being. It’s the same as what would happen if you separated a brother and sister during divorce proceedings.

Your family pet is one of the most important parts of your life. So, even though the courts don’t treat him or her like that, it doesn’t mean you have to. Work with your spouse to come up with the best solution that takes into account the well-being of your pet.  





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