Have you, or someone you know, ever had to share joint custody of a pet due to a breakup/divorce? If so, how did that work out? Was the time actually 50/50?

Many married couples are now foregoing having children but still feel a need for caring for something other than themselves individually and for each other, and so they get a pet or pets. They truly love these pets. They honestly see these animals as a part of the family. 

Now just because devoted pet owners perceive and treat their pets the same as they would a child or almost the same as they would treat a child does not elevate their pets to the status of children. 

Nevertheless, one can easily provide for shared joint custody of pets in a divorce settlement and decree. I have prepared such settlements and decrees myself. 

Just as there are some parents who refuse to set aside their animosity for one another for the sake of the children when it comes to exercising joint custody of their children, there are divorced pet owners who act the same way. Such as: 

  • using the ex-spouse’s love for the pet as a way of tormenting the ex-spouse by: 
    • withholding shared custody of the pet; 
    • abusing and neglecting and otherwise mistreating the pet; 
  • failing and refusing to notify one’s ex-spouse about the pet’s health and healthcare needs, then contriving to accuse the ex-spouse of abusing or neglecting the pet, either as a way of falsely making the ex-spouse look like a criminal or simply as a way of falsely making the ex-spouse feel like a miserable failure; 
  • using the shared connection to the pet as a way of insinuating oneself into the ex-spouse’s life as a newly single person (refusing to move on, by using the pet as a pretext to maintain a relationship—even a dysfunctional and toxic relationship—with the ex-spouse, even when the ex-spouse clearly doesn’t want such a thing).

So it’s really not a question of whether pets are hard to share joint custody of, it’s a question of whether each ex-spouse can put the interests of their pets before his/her own individual self-interest. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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