I was recently involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, since it was my first accident, I was scatter-brained and anxious. What I did not realize at the time was that the actions you take immediately after the accident can affect a personal injury case and the outcome of that case. I wanted to find a way to share my experiences and mistakes with other. Since the Internet is so popular, I figured this would be a great way to do so. While you likely aren't planning on being in an accident soon, if you are, hopefully you remember some of the tips I share on this website.
In most cases, pets are considered property in the event of a divorce. This means that the judge will award custody of the pet, or property, to one party and the other person won't even have the consolation of visitation rights. Although it's difficult to live with the fear of losing a much-loved pet, it's equally important to stay on the right side of both the law and the courts during the proceedings.
Gather the Evidence
In most pet custody cases during a divorce, proof of ownership is all it takes to win the case. Bring your divorce attorney any paperwork you have that helps prove your ownership. These can include:
Adoption or purchase documents in your name.
Proof of purchase, such as credit card statements, that are from your personal sole account.
Vet care receipts in your name paid from your personal account.
Food and pet-related expenses that you paid for.
Any other documentation that shows you as the primary caregiver for the pet.
If most of the pet-related expenses are in your former spouse's name or from a joint account, your attorney may advise you to instead prove yourself as the primary caregiver. In some cases, a judge will rule in your favor if you have been the main person responsible for the daily care and well-being of your pet.
Keep It Friendly
When it's difficult to prove ownership, staying on friendly terms with your ex is in you and your pet's best interest. Although unfortunate, pets are sometimes used as a tool to hurt the other party during the divorce proceedings. You can sometimes offer monetary compensation for the pet to the ex, if you feel they are trying to keep the pet just to hurt you.
If you can work with your former spouse, consider visitation agreements. Compromise is better than losing all access to your beloved pet. The court usually won't get involved in a custody sharing arrangement for your pet, but your lawyers, like Wade Bettis, J.D., Ph.D., PC, can help you work out an agreement.
Don't Resort to Theft
Although custody is 9/10 of the law, stealing your pet won't help you out in divorce court. Instead, you may end up with a criminal record and no hope of every bringing your pet home with you. If you do not win custody of your pet during the proceedings, don't try to hide them or refuse to turn them over to your ex. Not only is this a criminal offense, it can hurt your chances of winning custody later if you decide to pursue the matter.
In the end, keep your pet's best interests in mind. In many cases your pet may be better off with your ex, especially if they are staying in the family home or have primary custody of your children. It's also not a good idea to split up your pets if you have multiple animals. This can cause further stress on your furry friend during a difficult time.