3 questions to ask when addressing pet custody during divorce

A dog, cat, rabbit or other companion animal can be a source of joy and emotional comfort. That pet can also be a source of intense disagreements during divorce proceedings.

Couples may disagree about who should live with the pet after the divorce. Those attempting to make determinations about a shared pet may want to ask themselves a few key questions first.

How expensive is the pet?

Keeping different kinds of animals results in different types of financial obligations. A horse can be much more expensive to feed and house than a cat. A bulldog that has already displayed certain health issues may require extensive veterinary support in the next few years. People may need to consider whether they have the capacity to cover a pet’s expenses on their own after a divorce.

What are their living arrangements going to be?

Pets require varying levels of support and space. A husky typically requires a lot of outside access to burn off its energy and stay healthy. Other dogs, including relatively large mastiffs, may be less active. However, they are likely well over the weight limit at most rented residential properties. If someone is likely to move into an apartment, they may not be in a position to continue caring for a pet anymore. They could also incur large expenses if they attempt to bring a pet to a leased property, as landlords may assess an extra deposit and even monthly pet rent.

How much time do they have?

It is easier for two people or a family to divide the needs of a pet than for one person to consistently meet the needs of an animal. Someone with a highly-demanding profession can rely on their spouse to let the dog out or play with the cats while they pull a 12-hour shift at work. Most companion animals are unhappy if left alone for extended amounts of time. In some cases, those who own pets may have to accept the very difficult prospect of letting the pets stay with their spouse because they are not in a position to meet the animal’s needs.

The unfortunate reality is that the Connecticut courts treat animals like property, not like children. A judge hearing a family law case won’t create a shared pet custody order. They will simply award the animal to one person or the other. People who understand what to expect can potentially reach an amicable decision about who their pet will reside with post-divorce instead of leaving this determination to a judge.

Learning more about the Connecticut approach to certain emotional divorce issues can help those unsure of what to expect. Pets can often be a sticking point in early divorce negotiations, but people who understand the rules of Connecticut divorces can make informed decisions accordingly.