Pets enhance our lives with love and companionship. Some people create a strong emotional bond with their pet and consider them a member of the family or like a child. Unfortunately, during a divorce, the pet will become a point of contention as to who will get custody of the animal.
Getting the law involved with pet custody issues during a divorce isn’t an avenue that provides a lot of options. According to Arizona law, a pet is considered personal property, and in a divorce, the personal property is divided between both parties. Obviously, this is complicated, since a lamp may not have the same sentimental value as a beloved pet.
The best way to avoid future disagreement over an animal’s care and custody is to work out a pet agreement. The following list clarifies the items that the pet custody agreement will detail:
Custody and Visitation
Determine who will be the primary caretaker of the pet and the location of the residence. A visitation schedule should be detailed and agreed upon so that each party can expect to have access to and see the pet on a regular schedule. Parties must notify each other if there are any schedule changes, such as vacations or events. Travel expenses incurred by either party over the course of visitation will be their own responsibility.
Agree on who the veterinary provider for the animal will be for routine exams and medical treatment, and which party will be responsible for the scheduling and payment of any medical treatment.
Proper care for the animal should always be provided. There should be a reasonable expectation of care for the pet while in the custody of either party. Detail how the pet’s basic needs will be met, covering the following.
- Food (include any special dietary needs) water, and shelter
- Outdoor walks or access to bathroom facilities
- Veterinary appointments as needed
In case of an emergency, the animal should receive prompt transportation to the veterinary clinic to receive medical care and the other party should be immediately contacted.
In the event that one party decides to give up the animal, or if financial or physical circumstances make it so they can no longer care for the animal, sole ownership will be given to the other party.
If either party desires to purchase pet insurance, they would be responsible for the expense.
Pet Identification and Licensing
This includes any pet identification obligations or licensing fees (including microchips). The primary owner should be listed on all pertinent records.
End of Life Decisions
If a decision needs to be made regarding the euthanasia of the animal, determine which party will be responsible for the decision and determine how to handle the animal’s remains. Include the obligation to notify the other party to give them a chance to see the animal and say goodbye.
It would be wise to try and reach an agreeable situation regarding pet custody without involving the court. A judge will likely give sole ownership to only one party. There are various pet agreement templates available online to help you clarify care and responsibilities for your pet between you and your ex-partner.
If you are unable to reach a workable solution concerning pet custody during your divorce process, contact us at (480) 568-1141. The team at Simon Law Group can recommend options and strategies based on your specific circumstances.