There are plenty of divorcing couples who don’t have children, but they do have a dog. A dog can be treated very like a child, and although technically a pet is property to be divided, many people would not agree with treating a "fur baby" in such a cold manner.
Not all judges will get involved, but if it comes down to a decision, there might be a few factors that will sway them. As in the case of children, the judge will consider who can properly care for the animal. There could be a situation where the safety of the animal is a consideration, or whether or not one spouse has the income to provide shots, food, and other expenses associated with pet care.
Another issue judges consider in the case of the pet, is whether or not there are children to consider. Pets offer stability in a time of change for children; they offer a form of emotional support and help the transition between the old life and the new. This can lead to the parent awarded custody to also be given the task of caring for the family pet. Although there are no pet custody laws, this might serve as a time where a judge would consider some sort of agreement concerning "visitation" for the pet if it is linked to the visitation with the children.
Even without children involved, there are instances where judges have seen cases concerning "pet custody," and the sharing of time with the pet has been incorporated into the divorce. The best way to settle this, if you are looking at trying to share time with your beloved animal after your divorce, is to plan ahead as to sharing vet bills, vaccinations, and care.
A judge must take such a situation seriously, but the sharing of a pet is a legitimate concern in a divorce. Pets are a part of many families, and in many cases, are treated like family members. If you are facing a divorce, begin the discussion now. Questions? We're here to handle issues just like this one. Divorce is difficult. Let us help you with the difficult decisions. Remember, it's about to get better.