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Taking care of family pets in divorce

Pets are important members of many families in Oklahoma, providing their owners with love and companionship, especially during times of stress. However, in a divorce, many pets are considered property subject to the laws of property division – equitable division laws in Oklahoma. This is especially true if the pet was purchased together during the course of the marriage. In some cases divorcing spouses may want to create a “pet parenting plan,” that mimics child custody and support agreements.

It may be possible for some couples to agree to a pet visitation schedule. For example, one spouse could take care of the pet in their home during the week while the other takes care of the pet in their home on the weekends. Every-other-week options may work better for some. Even holidays can be addressed in a pet visitation schedule. Ultimately, though, the pet needs to be under the care of one who has the time and resources to commit to the health and well-being of the pet after the divorce. For some, this means keeping the pet full-time, while the other spouse has visitation hours.

Depending on how spouses craft their pet visitation schedule, they may also want to share the costs of caring for their pet post-divorce. This includes paying for food, toys, grooming and medical needs. Some pets may also have daycare costs, if both spouses work outside the home. Spouses will also need to come to some sort of agreement as to how they’re going to make decisions when it comes to caring for their pet. This is especially true when it comes to deciding what to do, and who will pay the veterinary bills, if the pet becomes ill.

Many spouses love their pets and want to remain in their pet’s life after their divorce. There are ways to do this, if couples put their heated emotions aside and work together. By creating and committing to a “pet parenting plan,” it may be possible for both spouses to spend time with their furry family members post-divorce.