How to share custody of pets and other property
Written by Judy Morse

How to share custody of pets and other property

Your co-worker has a framed photograph of her “grand-pups” on her desk. Your friends send out holiday greeting cards featuring photos of their Collie “kids.” More and more pets are tagging along on family vacations. Many people consider their pet to be an additional member of the family. You can imagine the emotions a divorcing couple may feel as they try to settle “custody” of pets.

Custody of Pets as Property

To us, pets are companions; however, the Arizona courts view them as property. Pets are usually allocated no differently than furniture, vehicles and appliances. Although some states are beginning to recognize animal companions in divorce custody disputes, Arizona is not yet one of them.

Collaborative divorces offer an alternative option. This process allows a divorcing couple to be creative with custody of pets and other property. You can customize a collaborative divorce outcome to meet your unique circumstances. A group of professionals can assist with complex issues, including legal, communication and financial. The goal is to come to an agreement that benefits everyone.

Cats, Cars, Cabins and Collaboration

Collaborative divorce focuses on fair and equitable decision making. Partners agree to conditions that will benefit their family, now and in the future. Property conflicts can arise. Collaborative divorce professionals can offer creative settlement solutions for your situation.

Share the Pet

One solution to the question of how to decide custody of pets is to keep the pet with the kids. After a stressful divorce, your child may find comfort in knowing they can travel between homes with their childhood cat. Cats and dogs easily adapt and may even enjoy changes in scenery. Pets, for the most part, seem to think “home” is where the heart is. In many cases, that’s when they’re with family.

Share the Car

In some families, the driver with no kids drives the convertible. The partner hauling kids, sports equipment and the family dog drives the SUV. The co-parents exchange the vehicles as needed.

Share the Cabin

Agreeing to shared custody can also apply to vacation homes, camping equipment and recreational vehicles. One option, similar to the custody of pets, allows the partner who has the kids to have access to these pieces of property. Or, perhaps the family cabin on the lake could be one person’s property every other summer. Other families may choose to switch off depending on their favorite season. Working with a collaborative professional will allow you to determine what agreement works well for everyone.

Choose Collaborative Divorce

Just because the spouses are getting divorced, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the family. With help from the Best Legal Choices professionals, when both spouses are willing to work together and want to avoid a high-stress divorce, satisfactory compromises can be made.

Collaborative divorce opens up options for pet custody since the divorce is kept out of court. When you choose collaborative divorce, you’re choosing the bigger picture. Contact the professionals at Best Legal Choices to start planning your options.