For many couples, getting married and adopting a pet is a way to share the closeness you have with each other. Your pet quickly becomes part of your family as you share adventures and experiences together.
When it is time for a divorce, deciding what you should do with your beloved pet can be challenging. Very likely, neither of you want to be without it, but sharing custody can be complex.
Here’s what you should know about sharing custody of a pet after a divorce.
Pets are property
To you and your ex, your pet is a member of the family. Courts in Washington still view pets as property during a divorce negotiation.
In a recent case, one couple has made several attempts to get an official custody agreement that is enforceable by the court, but so far, they have not been successful.
But you can still agree to share
If you and your ex leave the decision up to the court, they will look at your pet like any other piece of property and assign to pet to you or your spouse. Typically the court will look at factors such as who paid the vet bills and whose lifestyle can accommodate the pet.
However, you and your ex can agree to share custody of your pet, but it will be up to the two of you to decide how that will work. Similar to child custody agreements, you will need to look at the type of care your pet requires and what is a reasonable way to share the responsibilities.
Keep in mind that since the court still views your pet as property, it will be up to you and your ex as individuals to navigate your agreement and make changes as they are needed. In many cases, the court will not enforce the agreement if there is a dispute regarding custody.