What is a Pet Custody Plan?

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pet with owner

Most people view their pets as beloved family members. As such, deciding custody of beloved furry companions can be contentious when couples separate. Please continue reading to learn what a pet custody plan entails and how a trusted Suffolk County Divorce & Separation Attorney can help you prioritize your pet’s best interests. 

Who Gets Custody in a Divorce?

It’s crucial to understand that courts don’t handle pet custody like child custody. When children are involved in a New York divorce, the court will use the “best interests of the child” standard to resolve custody issues. This standard generally means that the court will examine several factors to establish a custody arrangement promoting a child’s well-being.

Although courts don’t view pet custody the same as child custody, they also don’t consider pets as pieces of personal property to be divided between divorcing parties, like a couch or table. In pet custody cases, courts use the best interest of the animal standard to determine custody and visitation. Pet custody laws only apply to companion animals, such as dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals that are cared for by an owner. New York courts don’t have to protect the best interests of farm animals.

Sometimes, the court may deem it appropriate to award shared pet custody. An agreement can be reached outside of court, or the court can help determine a shared custody schedule agreement depending on the animal’s needs and where each party lives. However, transporting a pet back and forth between residences may negatively impact the animal’s health.

How to Create a Pet Custody Plan?

When sharing custody of a pet, developing an arrangement that prioritizes the animal’s best interest is crucial. This involves assessing which household can provide the most suitable environment, including safe and secure conditions, sufficient space, and access to proper care and attention. If your new living situation is inappropriate for your pet, you can get creative with your pet custody plan. For example, the pet may live with your ex for most of the week, but you could get long walks on weekends to make up for that lost time while preserving the animals’ well-being.

Just like co-parting children, co-parenting a pet requires good communication and flexibility. In your plan, you should stipulate how the exchanges will happen and who will take the pet to the vet. In addition, you should discuss your flexibility in case emergencies occur or changes in your pet’s health needs occur. You should also determine how vet and other care expenses will be divided and what happens if one party wants to change the custody arrangement. Ultimately, your plan should prioritize the best interests of your pet.

If you are divorcing and concerned about your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney from the Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C., who can help you create a pet custody agreement.

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We have an excellent AVVO rating from our many happy clients

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We treat our clients with the compassion, patience, and respect that they deserve

We have more than 20 years of dedicated legal experience

We have the legal knowledge necessary to help you obtain the outcome you desire

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What Our Clients Are Saying

I hired Susan to represent me in a divorce matter where I was fighting for custody and to limit my wife's equitable share of our assets. I won custody of our son, kept the marital residence, kept my professional practice, kept my building and paid less than half to my wife. This was after a long-term marriage. She could persuade the court that equitable is not equal and sometimes the man does deserve to win!

‐ Dave

I first must say that I had been represented by two prior attorneys both of whom had simply taken my money and left me nothing to show for it in my custody case. They kept telling me what they were doing for me but I found out they were lying. Susan on the other hand had gotten me temporary custody and support for my children and myself within two months of hiring her. I cannot say enough about her.

‐ Craig

After talking to a few other attorneys, I hired Susan to represent me in my divorce and custody dispute. I was reluctant to go with her because she was the cheapest out of all the other attorneys I met with, but I'm so glad I did. I am 100% positive no one else would have done such a great job with my case as Susan and her staff. Her work is quality, her staff is reliable and her character is honorable. There...

‐ Linda

I had a very difficult case where I had already burned through two attorneys who were unable to get me custody of my children and complete my divorce. Susan was able to rapidly work out an agreement and not let it just malinger on like my previous experiences. She was also considerate of my financial situation unlike all of the other lawyers I had spoken to. I highly recommend her if you want complete and caring service with an in-depth knowledge of...

‐ Joanne


The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. proudly serves clients throughout Suffolk County, New York in their divorce, family law, and estate planning matters. If you require the services of an experienced Suffolk County attorney, schedule a consultation with The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. today.

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