Divorcing families who have pets face additional stress. Not only are spouses worrying about the separation process and how it affects their property division, child custody and visitation, and support and maintenance, they worry about what will happen to their pet. Like children, pets need medical care, exercise, food, water and affection. Pets also provide comfort, support and a sense of continuity to everyone.
If you’re facing divorce and are curious to know how that divorce will affect your relationship, expenses and time with your beloved pet, we encourage you to read on.
Sharing a Pet Means Sharing Expenses and Time
Having a pet can be as expensive as it is rewarding. Even if you are reluctant to give up time with your pet to your spouse, think about it from a practical, economic standpoint. Having your soon-to-be ex-spouse help with vet expenses can be a good decision if you are feeling a bit stretched for money or worry that you can’t afford it on your own.
Sharing expenses is especially helpful if you have an older pet, as older pets tend to have more veterinary expenses and need extra care. Sharing expenses and pet care can often mean the difference between being able to keep your beloved pet or having to give it up for adoption or relinquish the dog to a pound or animal shelter. These are options most families don’t even want to consider.
What You Should Consider When Sharing Pet Custody
When determining care and custody of your pet, pull together a list of pet-related time commitments and expenses such as:
- Anticipated medical expenses for vaccinations and checkups
- Fund for vet visits if your pet is sick or hurt
- Grooming expenses
- Clothing and boots if needed
- Pet-sitting and pet-exercise expenses or day-care expenses if you use these services while you are away
- Travel expenses if your pet travels with you
Also, begin thinking about coordinating all aspects of shared custody of your pet. Try to:
- Agree on a schedule ahead of time and stick to it consistently so your pet feels secure
- Have a backup person ready to take care of your pet if you are unable to get home on time or your spouse can’t make his or her commitments
- Allow your pet some time and space to adjust to its new home(s), surrounding it with favorite toys and comfort items whenever possible
- Continue using familiar commands and training methods with your pet
- Keep the pet on the same food in both houses
- Introduce them to new pets slowly and without pressure
- Avoid moving puppies and kittens back and forth since they won’t be able to adjust well or quickly to two new homes
Like everyone who is in a stressful situation, pets have reactions to changes in their environments and to you. Pets may have more accidents than usual, be confused or frightened, or want to hide and retreat. They get depressed and anxious just like we do. These problem behaviors can be overcome with patience, understanding and, potentially, targeted training or dog behavior services.
We Can Help You Work Through Sharing a Pet
Contact us for help if you are going through a divorce and worrying about your pet. We are here to help and completely understand your concern. Reach out today to arrange a consultation about your divorce.