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There is no doubt about it: pets are family. It’s estimated that households in the U.S. will spend $99.0 billion on their pets, including treats and food, vet care, and other services. But what happens in the event of a divorce or breakup when precious family pets, such as cats or dogs, are loved and cared for by both people? It’s easy to brush off the concept with statements like, “it’s just an animal,” but the millions of US families who love and care for their pets would argue they’re not. 

There are many possible solutions for the shared custody of pets. Here are some things to consider. 

Put the Pet First

The needs of your pet should be the first thing you consider when making any arrangement. You should never use your pet as a pawn in your relationship. Your dog, cat, or other type of pet deserves a good and stable home. They are likely bonded with both of you, so considering where the pet should live will be an important discussion. 

Learn to Work Together

The best part about pet custody agreements is they can help you and your former partner stay friendly with one another. You need to work together to make the pet custody arrangement work best for both you as well as your furry friend. While the arrangement may be different than the custody of a child, it will continue to cultivate healthy communication skills. 

Example Arrangements

Creative thinking can provide infinite options for pet custody agreements. For example, split time is a great idea if you and your former partner live nearby. For example, if one person works from home and the other has an office job, the work-from-home partner can have the pet on weekdays and the other, weekends. 

A dedicated pet sitting arrangement may also work. One former partner has primary custody but the other will be the primary caretaker of the pet when pet sitting is required.

Changes in the Future

The key to any pet custody agreement is flexibility. There will be changes in your lives, including possible marriages, children, or even other pets. You love your pet and want to make sure they have the best life possible, so working with your former partner to make these changes have a positive impact on your pet’s life will be critical.