Coordinating the Family Pet
with Your Ex-Spouse
Going through a divorce can cause couples to fight like cats and dogs (pun very much intended). According to The High Conflict Institute, approximately 20% of all divorces are defined as combative. When that happens, there is often a complete breakdown in communication between both sides. Whether or not you and your former spouse are on speaking terms, the ongoing matters you both agreed to in the divorce settlement still need to be honored, such as following a visitation plan with the family pet, so you don’t wind up back in court.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers cites they have seen a steady increase in pet custody cases within the last five years and currently, one out of every four divorce actions involve a household pet. States such as New York, California, Illinois, Alaska, and New Hampshire now have statutes in place that recognize household pets the same way they do children in a divorce matter. cites they have seen a steady increase in pet custody cases within the last five years and currently, one out of every four divorce actions involve a household pet. States such as New York, California, Illinois, Alaska, and New Hampshire now have statutes in place that recognize household pets the same way they do children in a divorce matter.
How can divorcing couples relay information regarding their furry bestie if they don’t want to dial their ex’s number and call them? There are apps for that!
Katherine Miller, a New York based Attorney and author of New Yorker’s Guide to a Collaborative Divorce, tells Pet Lifestyles Magazine, “When tensions between two sides are high, using a Parenting App can be an excellent tool for divorcing couples to limit unwanted stress and reduce their legal bills when coordinating a visitation schedule for the family pet and managing other matters related to the pet’s care such as dividing responsibilities, uploading the pet’s appointments and receipts for pet related expenses.”
Co-parenting apps are often recommended by lawyers such as Miller in a contentious divorce and according to MomJunction.com, there are 15 different ones to choose from; each one being affordable.
Our Family Wizard is a co-parenting app that was created back in 2001 and offers a variety of memberships levels beginning at $100 for the year. Rebecca Perra is the Judicial Education Coordinator for Our Family Wizard and tells us, “With tools like secure messaging, shared calendars, and expense tracking, divorced or separated parents and pet owners can upload everything onto the site because the app is an excellent resource to not only organize and arrange your time with the pet but to also exchange financial information, store all documents such as your pet vaccination records from your vet, as well as your pet license details, calendar of appointments and so much more.”
DComply, which launched four years ago, is another co-parenting app divorcing couples are finding useful. Co-founder Marco Munoz tells the magazine, “The primary feature that pet-parents are using is called, ‘quick bills’.” This section allows the user to send a bill plus the receipt and then request payment from the other side.
“The value behind this method,” according to Munoz, “is fact based. Once the user sends the co-parent an invoice, so there is no argument over whether the bill was paid or not, it minimizes negative communication.”
The other feature clients with pets are utilizing,” Munoz says, “is for recurring bills such as those who send a pet to places such as doggy day care. Here, one pet co-parent can send a bill that will automatically charge the other pet parent for their portion of the expense, so again, it lessens the argument over money and/or chasing the other side for a reimbursement for their share.”
Other important factors to note, co-parenting apps save you cash. Miller highlights, “Using these apps can limit the need for attorney consultations or court interventions which can save couples a fortune in legal fees and overall divorce costs.”
Perra, who is also an attorney notes, “Joining a parenting app also provides emotional support for two sides trying to figure out how to resolve the family pet concerns because co-parenting apps help and teach parties how to communicate better and improve positive outcomes as they navigate going from one household to two.”
Lastly, another advantage to using a co-parenting app is that it can limit the confusion as to the specifics of the arrangement set forth in your legal paperwork.
Barbara Gislason, an Attorney, and author of the book, “Pet Law and Custody,” tells us, “A parent portal can be useful for managing the family pet schedule, which you upload and can see on your computer or phone screen. You can also make changes to the set schedule if you both agree to the terms and you can upload your divorce documents which convey the clear, detailed, and show the executed underlying agreement which is ideally memorialized in a court order.”
Ilyssa Panitz is the “Only” Divorce Journalist and the host of “The Divorce Hour with Ilyssa Panitz”