golden retriever dog

How Can I Create a Pet Custody Plan in New Jersey?

During a divorce, there are many issues you must consider carefully. From distributing your property to wondering what will happen to your business, you must make many decisions. However, nothing may seem as important as your pets. If you and your spouse share a dog, cat, rabbit, or other four-legged friend, you may wonder what will happen to your beloved pet. Luckily, you may be able to create a pet custody plan with your ex. Keep reading to learn more about this process and discover how a Morris County divorce & separation law firm can assist you through this process.

How Are Pets Handled During a Divorce?

In New Jersey, pets are considered property. However, the courts do understand that animals are living beings and take that into consideration when determining custody. As such, they will not be treated like a car or piece of furniture. However, many judges are hesitant to split custody of an animal and often award custody to one party.

As such, if you would like to enact a custody plan, you’ll likely need to do so outside of the court, as judges usually do not engage in the creation of pet custody plans.

What Are Options for a Pet Custody Plan?

If you and your spouse have agreed that joint custody of your pet is the best option for your needs, you’ll need to create a fair and effective plan. Before starting, it’s important to remember that you both love your pet. However, it’s necessary to prioritize their health and well-being above all else.

You’ll first need to consider the best interest of your pet. If you have a large, energetic dog for example, but plan on moving to a small apartment, it’s likely not the ideal space for your pet. As such, you may be able to work out a plan with your ex that allows you to take the dog on nightly walks despite the pet living with your ex the majority of the time.

If you both have the appropriate space and live close enough, you can likely rotate custody. You may choose to have your pet for a specific period of time before it is your ex’s turn with the pet.

Finally, you’ll need to determine how you will cover emergencies. If you and your ex are sharing custody, you must consider how you will take care of important decisions that arise. For example, how will you handle vet bills and medical decisions? Ensuring you cover all possibilities in the custody agreement can help you avoid trouble down the line.

Divorce is rarely easy, though often necessary. At Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn, our dedicated legal team can help you navigate these complex issues, especially when your beloved pet is involved. Contact us today to learn how we can help you through these challenging times.

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