Jun 5, 2020
Where will Fido and Fluffy live after your divorce?
Couples facing a divorce have countless issues to address. One that comes up all the time is what do we do with our pets? For most families, pets are truly part of the family, vitally important to everyone’s well-being, especially the children. Even though there are no custody laws in the Pennsylvania Divorce Code that oversee pets, everyone realizes they must be cared for. So, what is the best way to do that in a divorce?
Scheduling pet time
If one person is keeping the home perhaps the pets can stay right where they are. And their care just continues as normal. Perhaps the pets can go with the children to the other parent’s home during visitation time. However, that is not always practical. The reality is that the children and the parent will likely have to adjust to seeing the pets less. This can be extremely difficult and even traumatic for the children, on top of all the other adjustments they are making. Occasionally, there is serious conflict over who should have the primary control, or “custody” of the pets. In mediation the issue focuses on what works the best for all parties, including the pets.
Relocating with pets
If the couple sells their home, then everyone must relocate. Finding a suitable home to accommodate the pets often complicates the search for the new residences. If a rental is the best option, it must permit pets which limits available options. Also, the monthly rent will likely be greater because of the pets.
Including pets in mediation discussions
Settlement agreements can address how to share the costs for the pets and even address serious illness in a pet. If the pets have chronic health conditions which require special diets and medications at significant cost to the parties, over and above the routine budget items for the pets.
At the Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, couples can address and resolve every issue, including how best to be responsible pet owners as the family moves forward.
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