This blog has talked a lot about how emotional and trying divorce can be. It is not easy to end a relationship, even if you are the one that is initiating the divorce. It is not easy to come up with a child custody agreement or divide your property. And, for pet owners in Arkansas, it may be especially hard to share pets.

Under Arkansas family law, pets are merely considered property. This means that, unless the divorcing couple comes up with a different arrangement, the pets will be given to one person in exchange for something of approximately the same value in the marital estate. Not all pet parents do this, however, and many work with their divorce attorneys to craft pet custody agreements.

A pet custody agreement is a contract that stipulates many of the same things that a child custody agreement would: who is considered the pet’s owner, how does the former couple share custody of the pet, are there visitation rights, how to share pet costs and much more. These agreements, like anything else in a divorce, needs to be made calmly and rationally. Preferably, they should also be made in the pet’s best interests.

One suggestion to make pet custody easier is to always adopt pets in twos. This way, if a couple does split up, each former partner can take the pet with whom he or she has bonded the most.

If no custody agreement is drawn up, however, pets are just another piece of the marital estate.

Source:  East Bay Express, “How to Navigate Pet Custody Battles,” Elly Schmidt-Hopper, June 5, 2013