Although the courts may treat you and your spouse as a family of two, you may think of yourself as a family of four because of your beloved English bulldogs. They are the children that you never had, and both of you have a deep bond with the animals. Maybe you have children and family pets.
When there are companion animals in a family unit, divorce becomes infinitely more complex, and the potential for emotional disputes increases notably. How can you effectively address your pets while navigating a New Jersey divorce?
You can ask a judge to settle the issue
You love your pet so much that you probably want to preserve your right to spend time with it. You may find yourself unable to compromise when it comes to your beloved companion animal, forcing you to go to court.
Unfortunately, a judge will treat a pet as property, which means they will not invest time creating a shared custody arrangement but will instead award it to one spouse and use its value during other property division decisions.
You can negotiate your own settlement
Many New Jersey couples would rather keep their marital matters out of family court if possible. Spouses have the option of settling their own property division issues, including what will happen with their family pet.
If you have multiple pets, you could agree for each spouse to keep specific animals. If you have children, you could have the animals travel back and forth between households with the kids as part of a shared custody arrangement.
Sometimes, one spouse will have to admit to themselves that their career demands would not make them an ideal pet parent without a spouse to help them. Families that reach their own arrangements can technically agree to shared pet custody and may allow one spouse to keep the pet because they view that as the best option for the animal.
The fact that both of you have an intense emotional attachment to an animal can make it a real sticking point in divorce negotiations. Learning about what you can expect from the New Jersey family courts during your divorce can potentially help you handle difficult property decision issues, like who gets to keep your canine companion(s).