If your pets are AKC registered, make sure you look at their papers to see whose name(s) are listed as the owners. Double check the vet records to make sure that you’re also on the contact list. For that matter, make sure that you have copies of their vaccinations, and their Microchip ID numbers. If you bought the pets prior to marriage, find copies of the receipts, the source of the funds, and any other documentation that proves you are the legal owner.
Consider parenting plans
Consider a shared custody arrangement of your pets. Just because the law characterizes pets as property doesn’t mean that we have to do the same. Family law courts will honor a reasonable % enforceable agreement, regardless of whether or not it’s technically the “correct” legal resolution. If you have human children, keeping your pets on the same schedule often makes sense.
Remember the details
If you are going to do a shared custody arrangement, remember that you also have to discuss the costs of maintaining your pet. I’m not just talking about food and grooming. Although it’s not a comfortable topic, caring for your pets in their older years is something that needs to be discussed. At what point do the vet bills become too expensive? How will you make decisions regarding whether to treat or let them go?
As much as you love your pets, your spouse likely has also formed a close attachment with them also. Equally as important, your pets likely love your spouse and would miss your spouse terribly if they never saw him or her again. If we truly consider our pets as children, we need to “walk the walk.” So consider their best interests and not be selfish. Just like it’s rarely in children’s best interests to never see the other parent, the same concept applies to our pets. Sometimes we do have to make sacrifices and be uncomfortable because we love our pets and want what’s best for them.