Who Gets Fido in the Divorce? [Updated]

[Updated 5/17/2019] Until we adopted our cute, adorable, sweet, lovable pup, I could not fathom the depths of emotion that people experience regarding their pets.  Now that we have Layla, I cannot imagine life without her.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a sensitive issue that can arise during a separation or divorce is how to handle the issue of our four legged or feathered friends. Recently, I’ve been asked to include several provisions about pets in divorce decrees. One popular condition is to have your ex promise to care for your pets if you go out of town. I’m also adding sections that include agreements to split major vet expenses, such as surgeries.

While you may or may not want it spelled out in your Divorce Settlement Agreement, there are several items you should consider when making decisions about your furry pals:

  • At whose residence will Fluffy live (or are you going to divide time – many couples have their pets travel with their children)?
  • Do you want to set up visitation guidelines for Rover and Princess?
  • If you are moving, are there pet restrictions at your new residence?
  • Who will make decisions about Rufus’ care and wellbeing?
  • How will vet, grooming and supply expenses be handled?
  • Do you have pet insurance?  How will premiums be paid?
  • Do you show your pet professionally?

Those can all add up. The annual cost of a typical dog can range from $300 to $2000 (Petfinder.com).  But there’s more to this than the financial considerations. Pets are like members of the family. Their care, well-being and safety are important as well. We like to treat your pets with same level of compassion we put into our services and the desired outcomes of your Divorce Mediation.

These are just a few considerations that we discuss in Divorce Mediation, depending on your personal situation.  In cases that were litigated and not mediated, these issues have caused quite a bit of “fur to fly.”  Read here for one interesting case where a Maryland judge ordered joint custody of: Lucky.