A divorce can take a toll on every member of that family. Divorcing spouses can feel sad and angry, while children might feel confused and scared. Divorce can even affect the family pets.
If you are divorcing and have a family pet, it can help you know how this situation might affect your furry or feathered friend and how you can help them through it.
Stress and our pets
Animals can experience stress and anxiety, much like their owners. For instance, dogs experiencing stress can exhibit behavioral changes, changes in their bodily functions and painful or upsetting physical reactions.
The sources of stress can range from medical conditions that compromise their instincts to changes in their environment. In the context of an owner’s divorce, an animal might be anxious if they feel abandoned, confused, threatened or neglected.
Protecting pets during divorce
This reaction to stressful situations combined with the love owners feel for their animals can give people reason to pay close attention to an animal’s needs during a divorce.
Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, animals are property and can be subject to division by the courts in a divorce. However, divorcing parties can protect their pets and ensure they are treated more humanely by discussing pet custody and support matters.
Increasingly, pet owners are crafting a custody arrangement themselves outside of court to protect an animal’s best interests during a divorce. They might even schedule visitation or agree to share custody, at least temporarily.
Parties might also agree to continue sharing financial responsibilities for an animal’s shelter, food and medical needs.
These arrangements can be unusual, but they may well be worth discussing with an attorney during a divorce.
Helping your pet adjust
Dramatic changes in living situations and care schedules can be stressful for animals. After a divorce, owners who care for them can help their pets adjust by spending time with them and continuing to show them love.
If you move, you might also pet-proof your new house and set up a quiet, comfortable place for your companion to eat and sleep.
Divorce can be stressful on adults, children and pets. But no matter who you are, love, patience and support can make the transition a little easier.