Divorce brings on a number of changes in the lives of both Utah spouses. If a couple shares children, they too will be affected by the process of dissolving a marriage. While the emotional needs of the human participants rightfully reign supreme, pet owners should also consider the effects that a divorce will have on the family pets. In some cases, disputes over who will keep the family pets can create serious property division troubles.

It is easy to overlook this issue when faced with serious decisions concerning the division of assets and child custody. However, it is also important to work through where the pets will live following the divorce. Spouses can easily have conflicting views on the issue, which can lead to a great deal of contention during an already tense process. Taking the time to discuss the matter can help everyone understand what to expect, and can avoid a great deal of stress and expense.

When the divorce is final, one or both parties will likely have a new living situation. They may have to move out of the family home, especially if a sale of the property is part of the divorce. One or both may have a different schedule once the dust settles, and might be more or less suited to the role of responsible pet ownership. It is important to consider these factors when making a decision, as the status quo when the family was intact is no longer the reality.

In many cases, the most loving gift a pet owner can give to their pet is an honest assessment of whether they are able to give the animal the care and attention that it is used to. In families with children, the pets often remain with the parent who retains primary custody rights. In other situations, the non-custodial parent may have more time to care for the animal, and the kids can spend time with their pets while at that parent’s home. Each set of circumstances is different, and each Utah family must try to work out a solution during the property division phase of their divorce that is best for everyone involved, whether they have two legs or four.

Source: allpetnews.com, “Divorce & Pet Custody: How Does it Work?” Heather Brennan, July 2, 2013

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