One of the odder, but certainly plausible sticky subjects to look at when going through a divorce is the issue of “Who gets the pet?” It’s a real issue that some take extremely personally, and has, in some cases, been a make it or break it issue for the proceedings.
There have been reports from some mediators of situations where everything with the mediation and settlement agreements had been going smoothly as could be expected. When the subject of the cat or dog, or even a bird came up, however, suddenly all bets were off. The fight was on and the couple had to go before the courts to complete the divorce proceedings.
After the divorce , where does the pet go?
So, who gets the pet? Well, there are numerous new ways to find out. But as with all of the other areas of working out a divorce settlement, the soon to be ex-spouses must be willing to talk and work it through, and not simply dig their heels into the dirt and insist on their way.
One approach that is being used as of late is to let the pet decide. Yes, you read that right: To let the pet decide. This can be a bit tricky, as it can be hard to find a ‘pet-whisperer.’ But you can find an unbiased party to observe a day in the life of the pet, and see who the pet seems the most at home with, and who it will be the most happy and healthy with.
It can actually be quite apparent as to who the pet wants to be with. How does it spend its day? Who does it naturally stay nearest to?
All of these are good questions to ask.
There’s also the question of whose well being and happiness you’re looking for. If it’s simply ownership and who gets to obtain sole possession of the pet, then that must be worked out with the mediator or courts. But if you’re looking at the pet’s well being, you’re going to want to find out where the pet will be the healthiest.
Divorce and pet custody
There actually have been stories of court ordered custody divisions over pets over the last decade. Some couples have been ordered to share six month joint custody, and even have had visitation rights imposed.
Hopefully it will not come down to this. Even though the issue of the pet can be extremely sensitive, it can be extremely helpful to set aside the personal feelings, and see what will be best in the long term for the animal.
Working together during the divorce process with a good mediator can aid in this decision. It is essential in these touchy and close-to-home subjects that you have an unbiased voice to speak into the situation and help you see clearly the best route to go. No one wants the worst for the pet, and no one wants it to be unhappy. Remind yourself of this so that you can step back, breathe and work through the divorce without getting in the way of what will help your beloved companion for years to come.