When you get divorced in Arizona, you’ll have to divide up everything in your household, and perhaps even your pets. In the past, most judges viewed dogs as property. Today, judges view dogs more like children. If you and your former spouse can’t decide who gets custody, a judge might make the final decision.
How do you decide who gets custody?
Traditionally, one party gets full custody of the dog after the divorce. If you’d prefer to have full custody of the dog, you could offer another asset in exchange like your savings or an investment. On the other hand, if you don’t want the responsibility of owning a dog by yourself, your estranged spouse might agree to take the dog off of your hands.
If you both want custody, your divorce attorney could help you write a custody agreement just like you would for a child. According to family law, you’ll have to write a specific plan that details your custody arrangement. You might decide to alternate weeks or keep your dog during the week while your former spouse gets them on weekends.
You’ll also have to make decisions about expenses, medical treatment and more. If your dog doesn’t have medical issues now, it’s best to plan for the future as much as possible. Decide which vet you want to use and which spouse will pay for medical expenses. You should also talk about other issues like putting the dog to sleep at the end of its life. If you get everything in writing now, you won’t have to worry about another legal battle later.
Should you try to sway the judge’s decision?
If the judge has to make the final ruling on your custody agreement, you might think about trying to sway their decision in court. Your attorney might recommend emphasizing your qualities as a responsible pet parent. However, trying to make your estranged spouse look bad will probably backfire. The judge might start to think that you don’t care about the dog and just want to get back at your estranged spouse. Instead of acting in this manner, you should focus on creating a fair custody agreement.