2 ways to integrate a pet into a Virginia parenting plan

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Family law

Trying to raise children cooperatively across two households is a challenge. It requires emotional control on the part of both adults and also very detailed planning if the family wants to avoid messy conflicts between the parents.

If there is anything more emotional than negotiating child custody arrangements, it may be needing to consider the care of your family pet in addition to the division of parenting time and responsibility to your children. These are two ways that families commonly address a household pet in their Georgia parenting plans.

1. They discuss the pet in the family schedule

Sometimes, both parents will live somewhere where they have the opportunity to have the pet in their home. In such scenarios, it may be possible for the family pet to travel back and forth between households with the children.

This can be a very smart move, especially when the children feel emotionally vulnerable in the early stages of divorce, as their bond with the animal can be a profound source of support. Other times, families may take the alternate approach if the animal is older or does not handle travel well. They may agree that the animal will stay at one parent’s home, and they may reflect that arrangement in other aspects of the parenting plan, like how they handle holiday and birthday celebrations.

2. They arrange shared decision-making authority

Even if the pet were to only live with one parent, its well-being will have an influence on everyone in the family. Therefore, to protect the pet from unfair euthanization or other tragic situations, the parents negotiating a plan for the custody of their children may also discuss the legal decision-making authority for their pet.

They may also address how they will share financial responsibilities if the pet has major health issues as it ages or even set rules for when the animal could be subject to rehoming or euthanization based on family circumstances and health issues. Although technically Georgia will consider these matters property division decisions, families may want to address the animal at the same time as they discuss custody matters.

Being pragmatic and also compassionate when talking about pets can help families craft more effective property and child custody arrangements with the assistance of a legal professional that offer children and household animals an optimal level of support.