A divorce does not just affect the two parties ending a marriage. Numerous people are affected by others’ splits, including the couple’s children, in-laws and close friends.
And don’t forget the furry, feathered companions. When owners split up, they must decide what will happen to their pets. This can be a surprisingly complicated and upsetting process for a few reasons.
- Pets are personal property in the eyes of Canadian laws. Of course, most owners do not consider their pets in this way. They often think of them as a friend or member of the family. This disconnect can make it difficult to decide what happens to a pet in a divorce. Left in the court’s hands, it could treat an animal much like a sofa or other piece of property.
- Custody plans can be complicated. Rather than leave the fate of an animal up to the courts, owners can design a pet custody plan themselves. This solution allows owners to decide for themselves where an animal will live and who will take care of it. However, complications can arise when parties do not agree on who should have an animal or how to divide time. Further, some people don’t put a formal order in place and wind up unable to enforce the terms of the agreement.
- Pets are affected by stress and instability. A lot can change when two people divorce, from living situations to each person’s daily schedule. And animals can sense these changes and respond to the stress. They may experience physical ailments and dietary changes; they may revert to bad habits or change their behaviours. Pet owners have a dramatic impact on how their animals cope in these situations, so it is essential to consider an animal’s best interests when making decisions.
Pets are a big responsibility, but they can provide immeasurable benefits to owners. Thus, it can be painful to decide what happens to them in a divorce. However, owners who can work together to assess what is best for their beloved companion can make the situation easier for everyone.