The Family Pet: Care and Ownership in Divorce
Providing for the Family Pet During Divorce
More and more, pets are becoming bona fide family members. In the eyes of Massachusetts law, however, formal custody of pets has not been established. Pets are considered the property for divorce purposes. They can be included in a property division between the two spouses. But, you don’t have to treat your family pet like property in your divorce if you don’t want to. You can treat your pet like you would any other family member if you and your spouse draft your own separation agreement.
Just because pet custody is not yet legally enforceable, does not mean you and your spouse cannot plan for the care and custody of your pet in the divorce. Since pets are considered property, there is the issue of who owns that property. Whoever owns the pet is responsible for its care, much like whoever has custody is responsible for the care of the child. Pets can be treated as family members, however, in separation agreements. You can draft up an agreement on where the pet will live and designate who is responsible for the costs of caring for the pet. If you, your spouse, or your children cannot part with the pet, you may want to work out an arrangement for shared ownership or even visitation. Keep your pet’s best interests in mind, though. Some pets are more amenable to transportation between houses than others.
Providing for your pet in the divorce is especially important if your children are attached to it. You can help ease your child through the transition of divorce as best you can by making sure they can still spend time with the family pet. This is a good opportunity for your and your spouse to work together for the benefit of your child. Speak with an experienced divorce mediator if you have family pets and want to make sure they are taken care of in your divorce. Planning for your family pet is one of the many things you will have to do when you work out the terms and conditions of your divorce, and a mediator can help you do so with your pet’s best interests in mind.
If you have questions about how to deal with your pets in the divorce, contact Mediation Advantage Services for experienced family law help.
Polly A. Tatum can help you and your spouse look out for the well-being of your pets.
Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson.
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