In many homes, pets – dogs, cats, lizards, rabbits -- are considered part of the family. So what happens to the pets if you get divorced?
In our divorce mediation agreements at Westfield Mediation, LLC, we always address how you are planning to care for the pets post-divorce. We consider what is in the best interest of the animals and the family. In addition to being an emotional issue, this is also a financial one, because pet care can be expensive. Also, some housing options do not allow for animals. So our divorce mediation agreements have to take feelings, finances and logistics into account.
For some families, the divorcing couples decide that the pets should follow the kids, so when the kids switch homes, the pets come along. Other families divide the pets over two households, with each adult responsible for their designated animal. In addition, some divorcing couples add in special instructions regarding the animals – for example, that the cats can’t be declawed, or that if one ex-spouse can’t care for the pet any longer, the other one gets first rights to the pet. By creating an agreement that address the needs of each specific family including the family pets, we help minimize the stress of the divorce process.
For more information about pet plans and divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M. Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC.