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Should your parenting time plan address your pets?

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2023 | Family Law

If you and your child’s other parent are going your separate ways, it’s time to figure out how your co-parenting arrangement is going to function in ways that serve your child’s best interests and in ways that are manageable for both you and your co-parent. Some sacrifices and inconveniences may be worth assuming and some may not, as you construct your parenting plan.

Take, for example, your family’s pet(s). Say that you have a dog and your child loves this dog. It might make sense for your parenting plan to stipulate that your dog will reside wherever your child is residing so that they can have the comfort and companionship of that animal wherever they are. However, it might also make sense to leave your pet out of your parenting plan if it is clear that the pet’s needs would be best served by staying in one home vs. the other. 

Weighing your options

There is no single “right” or “wrong” way to construct a parenting plan, provided that a child’s best interests are at the heart of it and neither parent is over-extending (or under-extending) themselves to the point where the arrangement is unmanageable. Therefore, when thinking about what to do with your child and their beloved pet(s), you can – and should – explore your options without assuming that any one solution is correct.

Parenting plans tend to be the most effective when they accurately reflect the needs of the families that create them. If a specific arrangement for your pet will truly serve your child and your pet, you can make that arrangement legally enforceable by clarifying it within your parenting plan. If it is better to manage your pet’s reality via other means, that’s okay too. Just keep in mind that if you have questions, you can seek legal guidance at any time.