While some states can take the welfare of a furry family member into consideration during divorce proceedings, many states, including Pennsylvania, consider pets to be property. That means that custody of your four-legged companion is likely to go to one spouse or the other without much thought of visitation according to the courts. The custody of pets in a divorce can be more effectively determined through using mediation instead of going through traditional court processes. The majority of households in the country own at least one pet who are oftentimes considered members of the family. Parting ways with a beloved pet during a divorce can be devastating – especially if a judge is required to act by state law which simply assigns possession.
Courts divide property based on it is considered community property or through equitable distribution. From there, the property will be evaluated to determine if it belongs to the couple as a whole or just one spouse. Finally, the court will take into account any previously agreed to arrangement regarding the property between spouses. Since pets are considered property in this state, this is the process they’ll go through. The agreements that you’ve made before you get to divorce court can be critical in how pets will be handled during proceedings. Working with a mediation specialist to determine what plan is best for the pets first is critical.
Figuring out custody of pets in a divorce should really be focused around the pets’ best interests. When you meet with a mediator to start outlining your plan, think about a few key factors that can make big differences in your plan, such as:
Working through these types of things with a mediation specialist before you go into court proceedings can make all the difference in where your family pet ends up. Custody of pets in a divorce isn’t easy but it also doesn’t have to add to the stress of an already stressful situation.