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Pet custody plans beneficial for some couples, not all

For those who do not own a pet, it may seem silly to spend time fighting over one in divorce or even more silly to come up with a custody arrangement for the animal. The truth is that pets are often considered not just part of a family, but a family member. Pets can provide an unbelievable level of support and companionship, especially during a divorce that is often a very emotional time. 

Divorce can be complicated by the simple truth that each familiy is unique and there is not one-size-fits-all divorce plan. This same complicating factor provides one of the greatest benefits of the divorce process: creativity. If a couple wants to create a pet custody plan, they can. 

Over 70 percent of Americans reported owning a pet in the 2010 U.S. Census. Whether that number has gone up or down slightly in the past few years, that is still a lot of households. Traditionally, a pet is considered a piece of property under the eyes of the law, making a court unlikely to even consider a sharing plan. That view is changing in some jurisdictions, and even in ones where it hasn't, parties can come to their own out-of-court arrangements.  

Pet custody arrangements can be the exact solution some couples are looking for. They can be a simple month-by-month rotation or be as complicated as a multiple-pet, week-by-week sharing plan. 

In other cases, a pet custody dispute may not be the right choice. Pets are habitual creatures, and some don't respond well to frequent changes. In other cases it is the couples that can't keep up with the rotation, finding it more burdensome than beneficial. In even other cases, the pet dispute is only used as a fighting point, a type of surrogate for the emotions a spouse is dealing with. 

Those considering divorce should take a step back and honestly think about what they really want from a divorce and what they want for their life after divorce. A pet custody arrangement is something that an attorney can certainly help draft where desired. 

Source: East Bay Express, "How to Navigate Pet Custody Battles," Elly Schmidt-Hopper, June 5, 2013

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