Who gets to determine pet custody in a New Mexico divorce?
We truly love our pets, and it seems unimaginable that family courts in New Mexico law views them as personal property to be divided equally. We know the animals don’t see themselves as property. So how do we protect our furry dependents and ourselves in the event of a divorce?
Keep all paperwork.
If your pet is AKC registered, have the courts review the papers to see whose name is listed as the owner. Let your veterinarian know that your name should be listed first on the contact list. Have copies of all veterinarian records and any other important information. Make sure you have copies of the initial purchase contract, the source of payment and any other forms that will prove you are the legal owner.
What about shared custody?
Consider dual custody concerning your pets. Even though the law states pets are property, like the couch, it doesn’t mean that you have to feel the same way. In family law, most courts will honor an enforceable and reasonable agreement, regardless of whether or not it’s a “legal” resolution if both parties are in agreement.
Don’t forget the money aspect of shared custody.
If you have opted for a shared custody arrangement, don’t forget to work out the costs of keeping your pet. On top of food, treats and grooming there are medical and emergency fees to think about. At what point would the vet bills become too costly? As your pet gets older, who will make the call to treat the pet or let them go?
Understand your pet’s needs.
Pets will form a bond with everyone in the household. It is their nature to stay with the “pack”. When one of the pack members disappears the pet can miss them terribly. If you really consider your pet a member of the family and not property, you need to put their best interest first, just like you would for a child. So, don’t be selfish or spiteful. Sometimes we need to make sacrifices even if we are uncomfortable with them.