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Using divorce mediation to decide what happens to pets

Many California married couples have pets. In fact, a great number of households include children as well as pets. As 2020 unfolds, many couples will decide to divorce, thus prompting a need to resolve many issues, including those having to do with where the children or pets in question will reside after the divorce is finalized. Spouses who wish to avoid confrontation and to achieve a fair settlement in as amicable a fashion as possible may want to consider divorce mediation as an option to make pet or child custody decisions. 

Most states consider decisions regarding where a pet will live after divorce as part of property division proceedings. Those who choose to mediate these issues must agree to peacefully discuss all pet-related matters. Who will pay for pet food, vet bills and other supplies? With whom had the pet typically spent the most time during marriage?

Like people, pets can become stressed when trying to adapt to unexpected changes in their routine. Similar to negotiating child custody issues, spouses will want to keep a pet’s best interests in mind when working out a co-pet owner plan in divorce. Is the pet used to one or the other spouse taking him or her for a walk every day or interacting with it, if it is a cat or some other type of animal that does not usually get taken for walks?

If California spouses plan to share the caretaker duties for a pet, it is a good idea to discuss where each pet owner will live. It may not make much sense for one pet owner to move to another state if he or she will have to keep making arrangements to fly the pet or drive long distances to get it back to the other owner as necessary. The good thing about divorce mediation is that spouses can take all the time they need to discuss pet issues or other matters without litigation. Parting with a pet, even on a part-time basis, can evoke strong emotions, but when both pet owners agree to keep the peace and work out an agreeable plan, it is often possible to achieve a settlement that keeps everyone happy.