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Determining where the pets go when parents divorce

Many families have a least one pet. Often, pets are beloved family members. It's no wonder that when couples divorce, determining where these pets will live or how they'll divide their time can be a decision fraught with conflict.

Laws are evolving in some states to view pets as more than property to be split up like the artwork and furniture in divorce. However, here in Arizona, the law still views them as property.

When divorcing couples have children, the decision about what happens to the pets is particularly crucial. Kids whose lives are being turned upside down by their parents' split often need their beloved pets more than ever. They can bring much-needed comfort and continuity to their lives.

If your kids are going to be living with one parent most of the time, it may be best for the pets to remain in that home. However, what if your kids are dividing their time between their two parents' homes? You may want to consider having the pets transition between homes with the kids.

This can help children adjust to a new environment, such as their mom's or dad's new home. Parents can even add the pet to the parenting time calendar so that their child can see that their four-legged friend will be with them.

If you and your co-parent are sharing custody of your pet (or even if it's remaining in one home), don't forget to determine who will cover expenses like food, toys and vet bills. These can add up. If one of you is moving into an apartment or condo, you will need to ensure that pets are allowed.

Your family law attorney can help you as you negotiate the custody and support of your pets. By having a clearly detailed plan in place, you minimize confusion and conflict later on.

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