No matter how much you feel like your pet is a member of your family, the unfortunate truth is that a court in Maryland is not going to use child custody laws when dealing with pets. Instead, the court will look at your pet as property, just like a car or a house. What this means is that your pet could be given to your spouse during a divorce.
If you both want to own the pet, however, there are some things that you can do to make this happen. To start with, you may want to think about setting up a pet parenting plan. You can do this largely in the same way that you would create a child parenting plan, as long as you can come up with something that you both agree to.
For example, you could have the pet one week, and your ex could have it the next week. You could determine who will need to take care of it on holidays, and you could divide the major holidays between the two of you. One important thing to consider is what ability you have to drop the pet off at your ex’s if you are going on a trip and you need someone to watch it. Will your spouse be open to that or not?
Finally, it’s a good idea to work out a plan to cover the expenses of caring for the pet. Unless you want to have two of everything — such as leashes, food bowls and toys — you need to split these things up. Additional vet costs may also have to be divided.
If you want to make sure that property division laws don’t take your pet away, consider your legal option to create a plan to share your pet with your ex.
Source: Huffington Post, “Divorce Confidential: Crafting a Creative Pet Parenting Plan” Caroline Choi, Nov. 19, 2014