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Can your pet follow your child post-divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2024 | Child Custody

Divorce inspires significant changes in family dynamics. For example, deciding what will happen to the family pet can be a complex emotional and logistical issue that arises for many couples. One solution some families consider is having the pet follow any minor children in the family as they travel between households

This arrangement results in both benefits and drawbacks, which are important to consider before making a decision either way. Otherwise, everyone could ultimately regret how this issue has been initially resolved. 

Potential benefits of this arrangement

Most pets provide comfort and emotional stability, which can be especially beneficial for children who are adjusting to life post-divorce. The consistent presence of a treasured pet can help alleviate a child’s anxiety, reduce their stress and offer them a sense of continuity.

To that end, pets can also experience stress and anxiety when changes in their environment occur. Keeping the pet with the child they are attached to can minimize these feelings and help the pet adjust more easily to the new living arrangements.

Potential drawbacks of this arrangement

With all of this said, moving a pet between homes can be logistically challenging. Ensuring that both homes are pet-friendly and equipped with the necessary supplies requires coordination and effort. Additionally, transporting a pet back and forth can be inconvenient and stressful for both the child and the pet, depending on the type of pet, its needs and its temperament. 

Different households may have varying rules and routines for pet care. This inconsistency can be confusing for the pet and may lead to behavioral issues. Ensuring that both parents are aligned on feeding schedules, exercise routines, and general care can be a difficult arrangement to maintain, and may lead to conflict.

Finally, while some pets may adapt well to moving between homes, others may find it stressful. Changes in environment, travel and adjusting to different households can lead to anxiety and health issues for the pet.

When deciding whether a pet should follow a child post-divorce, consider the temperament of the pet, the child’s attachment to the pet and the practicality of the arrangement. Once an arrangement has been determined, the terms of the approach can be detailed in a family’s parenting plan. 

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