Can a Pet Help You Cope with Divorce?

Divorce can be a traumatic and heartbreaking experience for all involved. The loss of a loved one, of a lifestyle, and sometimes a home, can weigh on the shoulders of those affected. The end of a relationship can lead to feelings of depression, anger, and isolation. There are many ways to cope with divorce, but caring for a pet can be an incredibly awarding and therapeutic experience.

Children and Pets

Children can have a harder time coming to terms with their parents’ divorce, especially if they are young. They may develop behavioral issues, such as acting out in school, refusing to do chores, or starting fights with their parents or siblings. Some children will benefit from seeing a counselor, but for others, alternative forms of therapy will be sufficient.

Children can have a hard time expressing themselves, and can struggle with the negative emotions that stem from divorce. Pets provide an outlet to children, giving them unconditional love and attention. This can be especially important for children whose parents are going through a highly contested divorce.

Adults Reap Benefits, Too

Adults have found that having a pet, or access to animals, allow them to better cope with their divorce. In addition to receiving unconditional love from their cat or dog, adults are able to focus their energy on their pet, and not the end of their relationship.

In an article published on the Huffington Post, Beth Noska and Candace Canty discuss just how their four legged friends helped them through their divorces. In regards to her two dogs, Noska said, “They let me hang on to my desire to be needed and wanted… and they continue to help me be more whole again each day”.

Canty’s two dogs became her confidants, as she kept her divorce a secret until after it was finalized. She said the divorce process would have been “very lonely” without her canines, and that they helped to make the transition into single life easier. Canty was able to socialize and interact with others at various dog-centered events in Chicago, where she lives. Making friends and having a positive attitude are crucial to overcoming divorce related blues.

Alternatives to Animal Ownership

Many New Yorkers live in apartments and lack the proper accommodations to house and care for an animal. This doesn’t mean that they have to forego the healing benefits of a furry friend. Many local animal shelters and rescues allow volunteers to interact with cats and dogs. Even just a couple hours a week caring for an animal can improve your mental and physical health, both of which are imperative to cope with divorce.

Petting zoos are a great alternative for children who are too young to volunteer at animal shelters. Just being able to interact with animals can be a positive experience for children and can really help them cope with their parent’s divorce. offers their recommendations for family friendly petting zoos and other interactive animal activities in and around New York City.

Family Pets in NY Divorce

Many New Yorkers have unconditional love for their pets, and treat them as they would a child. Unfortunately for these pet parents, New York State considers animals to be property, and are they often subject to equitable distribution in divorce.

Due to the influx in pet custody cases, matrimonial judges are approaching the subject of animal custody a little differently. For instance, in 2013, Manhattan Supreme Court judge Matthew Cooper ruled that a same-sex couple were allowed to fight for custody of their dog at trial. Honorable Cooper said he would take into consideration the same standards for determining custody of the beloved mini-dachshund, such as which party would make a better primary caretaker. Ultimately, the decision would come down to what was in the best interest of the dog.

Hire the Best, and Focus on Yourself

The most important part of any divorce case is the well-being of litigants and their families. It is important to have an experienced legal team on your side during divorce. The attorneys at Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C. are dedicated to providing intelligent and aggressive representation for their clients. We handle the legal aspect of tough divorce and child custody battles, so our clients can focus their attention their well-being and coping with their divorce. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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