Part of divorce is determining child custody. Divorcing spouses can meet with a divorce mediator to create a parenting plan that both parents can agree is best for their children. But what happens to a couple’s furry best friend in the event of divorce or break up – is there such a thing as pet custody?
Well, California law views pets as property. So in the eyes of the law, even though you may love little Fido like a real child, a judge will treat him the same as if he were a flat screen TV. Sound cold? Well, it can be, which is why disagreements over custody of the family pet may not receive much attention in court. As Richard Werner, the executive director of the American Pet Association states, “We owe it to our companion…to act in their best interest, and sometimes our emotions can be overwhelming. The courts can be a cold place to try to solve a pet issue.” So what are you supposed to do if you can’t seem to agree on what will happen to your pet?
Try pet mediation. Just like any other type of mediation, pet mediation is less expensive than going to court and you can come up with more flexible solutions. Your pet mediator will help you both achieve a better understanding of the other’s relationship and feelings towards your pet. Once you have that discussion, you will likely be in a better position to work with your divorcing spouse to figure out where your pet will live and who will pay for future expenses. A pet mediator can be very helpful in discussing what will happen to a pet that is older in age that may need more medical attention now or in the future. You can use pet mediation to discuss anything related to your pet, including: appropriate diet and exercise, how to handle future medical concerns, and how to ensure enough social and play time. You may be surprised to find just how creative you and your divorcing spouse may be in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. For more questions about pet mediation or to figure out if pet mediation is right for you, contact us today for a free initial consultation.