Divorce is always messy, especially when pets are involved. In many modern marriages, couples are having fewer children. Studies have discovered that instead millennials are choosing furry companions over children. When divorce occurs for these couples, they must consider pet custody along with all the other decisions involved with splitting up.
Fur Baby Boom
Millennials have a lot on their plate. This specific generation is saddled with high amounts of student loan debt. As the climate continues to change, they’re concerned about what they can do to slow the effects. They’re also worried about the effects of overpopulation. This could explain why more millennials are choosing to not have children. According to a 2016 study by research firm, Mintel, 75 percent of Americans in their thirties own dogs, while 51 percent have cats.
While being a pet parent may not be as long of a commitment as being the parent of a child, there is still a lot of responsibility on your plate. There was once a time that pets were considered property in marriages, but things are different nowadays.
Pet Custody Battles
When divorce occurs between a pet-owning couple, the family pet is part of the household and decisions made. In many cases, a legitimate custody arrangement is decided upon. Some attorneys are even suggesting couples include their pets in any prenuptial agreements.
Starting in 2017, Illinois passed a bill that empowered judges to consider the well-being of pets over that of their owners in divorce cases. Joint custody schedules were assigned in ways to suit the pet’s best interest. Alaska and California were the next to follow suit.
One of the biggest reasons for this change has been recognizing that dogs and cats have sentience. They can perceive and feel things. They can also recognize when something is wrong.
When making a pet custody decision, there are a few things the judges will review:
- Which spouse paid for the pet
- Which spouse pays for the pet’s day-to-day care
- Which spouse spends the most time with the pet
- If the pet provides emotional support for one of the spouses
- If there is a history of animal abuse
- If the couple has children, will seeing the pet less impact them
- If the pet prefers one spouse over the other
In divorce, there are many factors that come into play. Ensure you have someone on your side with knowledge and expertise who can guide you through the process. To learn more about Simon Law Group, PLLC’s family law legal expertise and services, contact us today.