How To Get Pet Custody After a Breakup

When you and your former partner bring a pet into your lives that you both care for, who gets the pet can be a serious issue.Courts will determine custody arrangements for pets, just as they do for children, because U.S. law is slowly but surely recognizing the deep bond that many people share with their pets.If you want to work out something with your former partner, it's better to let someone else make the decision for you.

Step 1: Take into account the context of the relationship.

Attempting to negotiate pet custody with your former partner may not be the best option if your relationship involved physical or emotional abuse.Unless there are abuse problems, you should be able to get your former partner to listen to reason.If you suspect that your former partner might hurt your pet, you should call an animal law attorney.You can find an attorney by doing a general internet search for " animal law attorney" with the name of your city or state.You can find names in the online directory of your state or local bar association.Some animal law attorneys have succeeded in getting restraining orders that include pets.If you're worried about the safety of your pet as well as yourself, talk to a family law attorney who has experience with restraining orders.You can get help from a domestic violence shelter.

Step 2: Schedule a meeting.

Ideally, you want to talk about pet custody in a private place where the two of you can focus on the issues at hand.A neutral location could be a local cafe or restaurant.Try not to go late at night or on a weekend when the place will be packed.Let them know what you want to discuss.If they try to insult or demean you for making such a big deal over it, just tell them that it means a lot to you and you would appreciate it if they would take you seriously.Keep your conversation civil when you call to schedule the meeting.There's no need to fight about the issue over the phone if you want to meet and discuss it.

Step 3: Don't give up your pet.

State law says that pets are property.The law favors the person in possession when determining ownership of other items of personal property.The phrase "possession is nine-tenths of the law" may have been said.It's true in most cases when it comes to the issue of pet custody.It is possible to get your pet back if you come to an agreement with your former partner.Chances are the court will award custody to them if you take them to court because they already have possession of the animal.

Step 4: Write notes to use as guidance.

Issues in pet care include food, activities, and veterinary care.If both of you love the pet and want what's best for the animal, you should meet with your former spouse to discuss all of these aspects.An outline of your pet's history can be created from the beginning.You can use this to argue for pet custody after a break up.Suppose you adopted the pet.Your former partner was reluctant at first and wanted nothing to do with it, but eventually came around and loved the animal.The fact that you adopted the animal works in your favor.If you are the one to take your pet to the vet, you can buy its food.Money can be hard to come by if you have a joint bank account.Think about who provided the most attention.The person who most often feeds and cares for the pet may be the one who is more attached to the animal.

Step 5: Use a rational approach.

If you're particularly attached to your pet, it can be difficult to hold back your emotions, but try to do your best to look at the situation objectively and determine which of you is best suited to take care of the animal.If your former partner takes better care of your pet than you can, you may want to give them custody.It's important to understand that you want to be able to visit your pet once a week and take the dog for a walk in the park.You can use the reasons you wrote in your outline to explain to your former partner why you want custody of your pet.

Step 6: You shouldn't insult your former partner.

Breakups are very rare for no reason.The last thing you want to do is turn your pet custody meeting into a shouting match.You both love and care for your pet, so keep that in mind.If your former partner didn't care about the animal, they would probably let you have it.Turn your attention back to your pet if you get angry or frustrated.Remember what you're doing when you keep your pet's face in your mind.If things start to get heated, it can be helpful to remind your former partner that you're both there for your pet.

Step 7: Try to listen.

Assume that your former partner cares about your pet.They may be concerned about your ability to provide adequate care for the animal.You have to keep an open mind and listen carefully in order to learn these concerns.To draw out their reasons for not wanting to give you custody of your pet, try to ask your former partner questions.By listening to your former partner's concerns, you may be able to find a solution that makes both of you happy and puts your pet in as good a position as it was before the break up.Suppose your former partner is concerned that you won't have time to take the dog for a walk during the day because you have a 30-minute commute to work.In that situation, you may be able to work out an arrangement in which you allow your former partner to come over during the day to walk the dog.If you pay them a small amount, you could potentially save yourself from having to hire a stranger to walk your dog.

Step 8: Any agreement should be written in writing.

Hopefully, you and your former partner can come to an agreement regarding custody of your pet when you sit down and discuss the situation rationally.Both of you can sign a written agreement if you do.It's not necessary to stress that a signed written agreement is legally binding.You don't need to hire a lawyer or draft a contract with lots of legalese.It's fine to have a simple agreement that outlines what you've decided.You should include everything you have said about your pet's care.Make sure your former partner has a copy of the signed agreement.You can take a photo of each of you signing the agreement if you want to avoid problems later.

Step 9: There's a community mediation center.

Most towns and cities have community mediation clinics that offer mediation services for common disputes, including pet custody issues.Call the county court clerk's office if you want to find a community mediation center near you.You can find different service centers if you live in a larger city.You can either look at their websites or call for more information.You may be able to get a recommendation from a local animal law attorney.They might have a particular mediation clinic that they prefer.Most community clinics are affordable.A single mediation session can cost a few hundred dollars, although many have sliding-fee scales to assist lower-income individuals.

Step 10: Discuss mediation with your partner.

It's not possible to force your former partner to participate in mediation if they don't want to.Tell them about it and try to convince them that it's the easiest way to resolve the dispute.A pamphlet explaining the process and services of the mediation center may be what you get.Emphasize to your former partner that with mediation, a neutral third-party will work with you to emphasize a mutually agreeable solution.You can walk away if you don't reach an agreement.Any agreement you reach is confidential, which is another benefit of mediation.If your former partner is concerned about how it will look to be arguing about pet custody in a public place, this may be helpful.

Step 11: Get ready for your session.

If you tried to resolve the dispute with your former partner in person, you may have notes that you can use in mediation.The issues about pet custody that are particularly contentious can be isolated by a previous attempt.If you can figure out where there is significant disagreement, the mediation can help you find common ground.Take some time to think about what you want to do with the medication.Your ideal outcome would be that you have full custody of your pet and that your former partner doesn't have anything to do with either of you.It's not likely that that will happen, so try to think of areas where you would be willing to compromise.The mediator can accept those ideas.

Step 12: Arrive at the mediation appointment.

If you can get there at least 10 minutes early, you will have more time to get to the right place and get settled before the session starts.The session is usually in an office setting.Try to dress conservatively.It's important for the mediation to have a good impression of you.If you want to use notes in your negotiation, bring them with you.You might want to bring a picture of your pet so that you can focus on negotiations.You may have to wait in a waiting room if you are directed to a private room.If your former partner is not there, you don't want to talk to them.Your mediator will usually keep conversation to a minimum so they can remain neutral and assist both of you in finding a mutually agreeable solution to your problem.

Step 13: Give opening statements.

When you and your former partner arrive, the mediator will give you a brief introduction and explain the procedure.They might ask you to give a brief opening statement.Like an opening statement in a courtroom, you don't have to be long.It shouldn't include a statement like "I want full custody of my pet."It is not helpful for mediation to have this kind of statement.If you want to emphasize, come up with two or three points in your favor.You could say that I am entitled to full custody of the dog because I brought him home from the pound, named him, and fed him every day.His registration is in my name because I have taken him to the vet regularly.This isn't just about facts.You may be able to point to the unique bond you have with your pet if you're short on points.You could say that your cat runs to the door when you come home from work.

Step 14: Work with the mediation.

After the initial part of the mediation is over, you and your former partner will have to move into separate rooms so the real work of mediation can begin.If you and your former partner can agree on some issues, the mediation can help you move to separate rooms.Even if the issues you're able to agree on are fairly minor points, it will sew the seeds for continued agreement and compromise.The mediator will try to find room for compromise once you've separated.

Step 15: A written agreement is needed to sign.

If you and your former partner are able to reach an agreement through mediation, you will usually get a written agreement for both of you to sign.Make sure it reflects everything you've said.Your animal custody agreement can cover many different aspects of pet care, including which of you gets to keep the animal in your home, what kind of food it can eat, as well as specifying activities or particular veterinary services.If you agree to take your dog to his favorite park at least once a week, your former partner may be willing to let you have custody of the dog.Even if there are relatively minor things in the agreement, it is still a legally binding document and can be enforced in a court of law.

Step 16: The appropriate court should be identified.

If you want to file a lawsuit for the custody of your pet, you need to know what court has jurisdiction over your former partner.In a divorce case, the issue of who gets the pet is likely to come up.You will have to file a lawsuit on your own if you weren't married.Small claims courts can handle pet custody issues.Small claims courts only award monetary damages.If you file a lawsuit in small claims, you run the risk of being awarded the monetary value of your pet, rather than the case itself.If your former partner has possession of the animal, your county court can order them to give your pet back to you.

Step 17: Don't hesitate to consult an attorney.

If you have an animal law attorney on your side, you will have a better chance of success in court.If you are going through a divorce, an animal law attorney can help you understand the ins and outs of the law in your state.Animal law is a relatively new area of law.Unless you live in a large city, it may be hard to find an attorney who specializes in animal law.It's important to find someone with experience litigating cases similar to yours because animal law is relatively new.Your local humane society may be able to connect you with an attorney who can help.

Step 18: You can file a claim for pet custody.

If you want to file a lawsuit for pet custody after consulting an attorney, you should do so as soon as possible.You can file a complaint with the court clerk if you want to start a lawsuit.You can use the forms on the court's website to draft your complaint if you're not using an attorney.If the allegations are proven, you will be entitled to custody of your pet.You should keep in mind that this is a legal argument, so you must have facts that show you are the rightful owner of the animal.The filing fee is usually several hundred dollars when you file a lawsuit.You can apply for a fee waiver if you can't afford the fee.The court will waive your court costs if your income and assets are below the threshold.Take the forms with you to the clerk's office.The clerk will assign a date for the next time you have to appear in court and stamp all of them "filed" with the date.They will give you your copies back.

Step 19: Have your partner serve you.

There are two copies of your court documents.The correct legal service of process is needed to deliver the other copy to your former partner.It's possible to get anyone over the age of 18 who isn't involved in your lawsuit to hand-deliver the documents to your former partner.You could choose a friend or relative.They need to sign a proof of service form for you to file with the court.You can either hire a sheriff's deputy to deliver the court documents to your partner or mail them with a return receipt requested.

Step 20: Wait for a response from your partner.

When your former partner receives your court documents, they have a limited period of time to respond to your lawsuit.You may be able to win your case by default if your former partner doesn't respond to your lawsuit.You have to show up on the day your hearing is scheduled.If your former partner does file a written response, it will be served on you using the same process that you used to serve them.It is possible that you will be contacted by your former partner to come to an agreement instead of going through a trial.It is possible that your former partner will file a motion to dismiss, arguing that you have stated no legal claim to ownership of your pet.

Step 21: You need evidence to support your claim.

The weight of the evidence is what determines whether a lawsuit is won or lost.You need to show in your lawsuit that you are the rightful owner of your pet and should be granted custody.Depending on the court in which you filed your lawsuit, you may be able to give evidence to your former partner.Unless your former partner has decided to fight you every step of the way, you shouldn't expect this to be an extensive process.Evidence that will support your claim for pet custody in court includes things such as proof that you adopted the pet, state registration or veterinary records that list only you as the owner, and receipts for dog and cat food and other pet supplies.

Step 22: You should present your case in court.

When your hearing date arrives, you will have the chance to tell the judge your story and present your evidence to show that you deserve full custody of your pet.If you have an attorney, you should still take the stand even if your role is limited.Try to show up at the courthouse at least 30 minutes before your hearing, but keep in mind that the judge will be hearing several cases on the same day.Take a seat in the courtroom gallery when you pass through courthouse security.If you have an attorney, you can go to the front of the courtroom.If you want to support your arguments, you can call witnesses.You can call a friend to testify about your relationship with your pet.If you were the only one who ever took your pet to receive veterinary care, you can be a good witness.

Step 23: Listen to what your partner has to say.

Your former partner will be able to respond after you present your side of the story.They may have witnesses testify on their behalf, just as you did.Try to pay attention to what your former partner is saying.Even if they interrupted you, don't shout out or interrupt your partner.If your former partner calls witnesses to testify on their behalf, you can cross-examine them through your attorney.Pay close attention to their statements and draw on your knowledge of the person who called to question them.

Step 24: Receive the judge's order.

The judge will make a decision after hearing from both sides.You can find out the judge's decision at the end of the hearing.He may not have a written order ready in a few days.The court isn't going to enforce the order for you if the judge rules in your favor.If your former spouse doesn't deliver your pet immediately, an attorney can help you figure out what to do.Your ability to appeal a decision that wasn't in your favor may be limited if you filed your case in small claims court.If the judge doesn't rule in your favor, you have less than 30 days to file an appeal.If you have a case for appeal, you should talk to an attorney.

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