F is for Fighting for our Furry Friends

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Divorces can be difficult and filled with change for all those involved – spouses, children, and yes even the pets!  Many issues need to be resolved and assets need to be divided.  The custody and care of our children is the top priority, but many put thought and energy into fighting over their furry friends.

Considering pet ownership has tripled since 1970, it’s no wonder we are seeing an increase in custody battles involving the family pet. According to the Humane Society, 62 percent of American households have at least one pet, which adds up to 71.1 million households. Not to mention the American Pet Products Association estimated that 58.51 billion was spent on our pets in 2014.

It is now quite common for divorcing couples to decide who gets to keep the pets. It seems as though in this day and age we bond with our pets more than we did in the past. Many of us think of our dogs and cats as family members with fur.  Unfortunately the law does not agree. In the eyes of the law pets are considered nothing more than property, and the courts have the authority to award a pet to one owner or the other.

This has led to a rise in custody battles involving the family pet. Due to this increase we have seen a small number of court cases where shared custody, visitation, and alimony have be ordered by the court. In the future we may see laws put in place to protect the best interest of our pets but for now in is up to us to do what is humane and kind for our beloved pets. Try putting aside the anger and hurt of the divorce and consider your pet’s best interest.

Here are some questions to ponder:

To whom is the pet most bonded?

Do the children expect to keep the pet, and where will the children spend the bulk of their time?

Who is better prepared to fed, care for, and pay veterinary care and other expenses for the pet?

When there is more than one pet, should you separate pets that have been bonded to each other or try to keep them together?

Who has more time and inclination to spend time playing with the pet?

If you can manage to put your pet’s best interest first you will find the courts are not needed and your love for this family member will help you find an easy solution.

Answers from A to Z

About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™).If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw

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