Is who gets the pets, the biggest struggle in your divorce?

Pets, like children, crawl deep into the hearts of their "parents" and soon become part of the family in many Louisiana homes. Often in cases of divorce or separation, pets become one of the points of contention and may spark the question -- who gets custody? Legally pets are considered as property, like all other possessions.

Thus, the court must determine if the pet is separate or marital property by looking at when and how the pet became part of the family. Then if the pet is deemed marital property, a court will consider who mainly takes care of the pet. Things like support for the caregiver and joint custody decisions by the court are unheard off.

The question is, how does one solve the problem? Many couples in similar positions have opted to try to reach an agreement for joint ownership. If an agreement between two spouses can be achieved, which can be included in the divorce papers, the courts will not have to decide the matter. It is important for the agreement to deal with all possible scenarios and clearly stipulate how they will handle each situation.

Experts advise the inclusion of five important matters. Firstly, a clear, flexible sharing schedule should  include procedures for possible changes. Secondly, the agreement must clearly stipulate who is responsible for which costs. Thirdly, it must also be clear who will be financially responsible in cases of illness, death and even pregnancy. Another aspect to include is how the matter will be handled if one spouse moves far away and the original agreement cannot be maintained.

Although the custody schedule will be helpful, decisions regarding changes to the time the pet spends with each spouse must be considered. The last important aspect is to make clear what happens in terms of liability should the pet attack someone. As in the case of child custody, a Louisiana divorce lawyer can assist a person and his or her partner in reaching an agreement regarding their pet. 

Source: FindLaw, "5 Tips for Sharing Custody of Your Pet With Your Ex", George Khoury, Accessed on Dec. 24, 2016

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