The issue of pet custody following a divorce was a topic of discussion last week. We mentioned that innocent animals can often get caught as pawns of revenge in divorce when an angry ex will attempt to win custody of a pet in an expensive war of attrition. In Texas, pets are considered property and awarded as such in a courtroom. Many are hoping for changes to these laws. However, it is not just divorcing couples without children that can develop a close attachment to pets.
A national survey reveals that around 71 million households have a pet. Many of these pets are family pets and deeply loved as an important member of the family, especially by children. Pets can be a strong support system as a child is coping with the challenges of parents working out the terms of a divorce.
One expert extols the enormous comfort that pets can be for children during divorce. The parenting coach that specializes in divorces recommends allowing children to have as much access as possible to a pet during and following a divorce. If there is a manner in which the child can travel between homes with the pet, this is worth exploring. Pets can be a strong sense of stability for children during a time of significant change.
Some children can deal with feelings of isolation or uncertainty when parents are ending their marriage. A pet can ease many of these discomforts. An added benefit: medical studies draw a correlation between pets and lower blood pressure levels and better stress management levels for children and adults alike.
In contemplating the best interest of the child and arranging visitation schedules, do not neglect to consider the importance of possibly one of the child’s best friends: their pet. An experienced family law attorney can help a divorcing couple in Texas work through custody and parenting agreements, property division and all other aspects of ending a marriage.
Source: Huff Post Divorce, “Pets Very Helpful for Children Coping With Divorce,” Rosalind Sedacca, May 6, 2013