How to Handle Pet Custody Battles in Divorce

Are you considering getting a divorce? One question you may have is what will happen to my pets if I get divorced?

After ending their six-year marriage, Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams divorce talks stalled over the custody of their eight pets – six cats and two dogs. Mandy kept all of them but negotiated pet support payments.

Obviously many people and not just celebrities have disagreements over who gets the dog or cat and it is a phenomenon which increasingly plays out in many divorces.

If you feel strongly that you should have custody of your pet, but also want to get a divorce, then it is important to have documentation of how you have financially taken care of your cat or dog.

Purchasing pet insurance would be an example of showing your ability to provide for your pet financially. Other examples include covering vet visits and purchasing food or toys more consistently.

Animal behaviorists feel that the pet does best with the home or routine that they are used to. Splitting up of familiar people can be traumatic to your pets as well. It is important to consider your pets well being and not use them as pawns in your divorce. In the relationship, think about who spends the most time with the pets. Who cares for them and takes them on their walks, plays with them and feeds them? If both individuals feel a close bond with the pet, think about a joint custody arraignment. It might mean seeing your ex-spouse more but then you can both enjoy your animal.

If you have children and the pet plays an important role in their life, it might be best to have a joint custody arraignment so that they can travel with the pet during their scheduled visitations.

Pets play an important role in our lives. As you begin the process of divorce, it is a good idea to do what is in the best interest of your pet and family.

If you are thinking of getting a divorce and reside in Massachusetts, please contact us at Amaral & Associates, P.C. at (617) 539-1010 or visit us at for information about what your next steps should be. We can also go over your situation, talk about your pets, and we can even introduce you to Romeo (our French Bull dog.) We can discuss divorce mediation that might save you time and money.

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