Category Archives: Co-Parenting

Who Gets Custody of the Dog?

If you’re in the midst of a divorce in PA, you’ve probably heard plenty of horror stories from friends who’ve been through the process. Disputes over the house, over pre-marital assets, over spousal support, and certainly over who spends more time with the kids are all typical, with some battles nastier than others. In the last few years divorce attorneys are responding to more and more clients who’ve added ownership of the dog to the list of things worth fighting over. If you’re anticipating pet custody as an issue in your divorce, there are a few points worth your consideration.

First things first. No matter how emotionally attached you and your soon-to-be-ex are to the dog and no matter how much you think of it as a family member, the courts do not agree. A decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court — yes, somebody appealed a decision about pet custody to the Superior Court — made clear that pets are distinct from people and not subject to custody agreements.  That means they are part of the equitable distribution process in the same way that any other asset is, and that it is not the court’s responsibility to establish or approve of a custody schedule.  If the dog was owned before the marriage, or if there are adoption or purchase papers that only have one of your names on it then that will help identify the legal owner, but in terms of splitting the dog’s time between the two of you, you need to work this out for yourselves. Judges are not going to get involved.

So, what’s the right way to address the situation? As disappointing as this answer may be, the general consensus in the legal community is that if you and your spouse can’t come up with a solution you can both live with, it’s probably best for whoever doesn’t currently have possession of the animal to surrender and go find another dog. Even if you manage to craft an agreement, it’s not legally enforceable: if one of you violates its term you’re going to be back in the same, no-win, no-judge-will-hear-it situation.

No matter how wonderful your dog assuredly is, a legal battle over custody is going to result in nothing more than significant legal bills and bitter feelings. My advice? There are plenty of adoptable animals at your local shelter who would be happy to fill the void. Better to spend your money on toys and treats for a new pet then on a legal battle that you’re not likely to win.

BEST ADVICE FOR DIVORCING PARENTS

Are you a parent who is planning on getting a divorce? If so, you may be afraid of how the divorce is going to impact your children. After all, most divorcing parents have this concern. Surely, you’ve heard the statistics – how divorce can affect a child emotionally, academically, and relationship-wise. But, it’s not all bad.

In Psychology Today, author Wendy Paris wrote, “Research shows that about 80-percent of children of divorce adapt well and see no lasting negative effects on their grades, social adjustment, or mental health.” We have to agree with Paris. So, the question is, how do you split with your child’s other parent and avoid the negative effects of divorce upon your children? Is there some kind of secret? In a way, yes.

Happy Children After Divorce

If you want your children to be happy after the divorce, you will do yourself a huge favor by having a good relationship with their other parent. That’s pretty much what it comes down to! Regardless of why you broke up, it’s important to set your differences aside and get along for the sake of the kids. This single factor can make all the difference in how your children cope with the divorce.

“Children benefit from emotionally stable parents – adults who are recuperated enough, in the case of divorce, to focus on the basic job of parenting, including establishing stability, exercising fair discipline, providing love and being emotionally responsive,” said Paris.

Some tips on getting along with your child’s other parent:

  • Don’t badmouth the other parent on social media.
  • During the divorce, remain polite and respectful towards your spouse.
  • Act in the “best interests of the children,” even when it’s difficult.
  • Be flexible about scheduling. For example, be willing to watch your children on the other parent’s night when they need to work or attend a special event. See it as bonus kid time, not an inconvenience.
  • Do not badmouth the other parent to your children and don’t badmouth their new boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Don’t cause a scene with your ex at your children’s events. Instead, be nice and get along with the other parent.
  • Keep the other parent updated on what’s happening in your child’s life.
  • Treat your former spouse how you want to be treated.

We hope this advice serves you well in the near future. At No Contest Divorce, LLC, we specialize in low-cost, no-fault divorces, which are made possible by spouses who are willing to work together during the divorce.

If you’re interested in working with your spouse to achieve a divorce for just $319, please give us a call for a free consultation. We are here to make the divorce process as quick and easy as possible for you.