In the United States, statutes and case law inform judges about how to answer questions regarding child custody and visitation. What is the day-to-day parenting scheduling going to be? With which parent will the kids spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays and school breaks?  Etc., etc.

What, though, happens when the “child” is a pet?  Will a judge answer parenting questions regarding Fido or Spot or Buddy? For the most part, no. Generally, state courts treat pets as property, and judges will not order timesharing schedules.

However, if you and your spouse reach an out of court settlement via the Collaborative Process, pets can be treated differently. Your settlement agreement can answer just about any question related to a pet’s care; for example:

(1)    When will the pet be with the wife?  When will the pet be with the husband?  How will the pet be transported between spouses?

(2)    How will costs be covered? (e.g. food, vet, kennel, and, for dogs, sometimes walking and pooper scooper services (yes, that’s a real thing. Google it).

(3)    How will important decisions be made? (e.g., whether to take the pet to the vet and which vet to use and, when the time comes, whether to put a pet to sleep).

In short, in the Collaborative Process, pets are treated as family members, not just some other property item.  You and your spouse come up with a plan that is in your pet’s best interests, rather a judge doling out your pet to just one of you, like a sofa or a chair, or a pot or a pan.