What About Fido?

One of the great advantages of a childless divorce is you are more likely to be done with your partner forever.  Without custody and child support to modify and fight over in the future, you are unlikely to return to court.

Recently, however, I’ve seen an uptick in the number of childless divorces where the parties continue to fight post-divorce… over the dog!  If you are in the middle of a childless divorce, and thinking about retaining joint legal or joint physical custody over your pet, here are some things to consider:

1) Few states have clear statutory guidelines for time-sharing with an animal or financial support for an animal.  You and your spouse will be creating an arrangement that is probably not backed by the law.

2) Along those lines, if you and your spouse fight over the pet post-divorce, a court is not going to want to hear about it.  Most judges do not have the patience to hear about Fido when they have a full docket of cases with serious issues.  Your fight about which dog walker is best is not nearly as compelling as a child sexual assault case.

3) Unlike child support, which is handled by the Department of Revenue, there is not a state-run agency for monitoring the payments of pet financial support.  In other words, your spouse will need to make payments directly to you, rather than the Department of Revenue, and there will not be an agency to file a claim on your behalf if your spouse is non-compliant.

4) While pets don’t live as long as humans, they can live a long time.  Fifteen years from now, do you really want to be fighting with your spouse of two years over whether or not to put Fido to sleep??