Dogs & Divorce: How To Handle Custody Arrangements For Your Pet

It's easy to find help for custody battles when going through a divorce, but when it comes to your dog, there isn't much advice to go on. It can be difficult to divorce when both parties involved endure their beloved pooch. If you are trying to figure out who gets the pup, here is what you can do.

Don't Think Of Your Pet As Property

Most of the time, the courts will immediately consider pets as property. When it's time to split up the assets, your pets will end up on either yours or your spouse's list of items you receive after a divorce. If you love your pet enough to read this, you don't think of it as property. Set a precedent from the very beginning that shows you want to treat your dogs like children in the divorce.

Check Your Pet's Paperwork

There are many different types of paperwork that your name could be listed on as the dog's legal owner. First, you can register it with the American Kennel Club. The registration in your name will prove that you are the dog's owner. Check vet records such as the vaccination records and microchip. These papers should have your name on them as well. If it is something your spouse handled alone, it could show that it was truly your spouse's pet. Have your vet add your information in their records as a contact if your name isn't anywhere else.

Consider Shared Custody

If your spouse never paid any attention to your dog, you probably want sole custody. However, if you both acted as a loving parent, you should consider shared custody. You can ask your lawyer to help you fill out custody paperwork. You can write up paperwork that is just like child custody. You can make plans to switch off every other week, or whatever is convenient for your schedules.

Pet Support

Pet support is not required in any state. It's not like child support where the non-custodial parent has to pay money to the custodial parent to help support the child. However, if you're both completely devoted to your pet, it's a discussion that needs to be had. There are a few ways to go about the subject. For one, you can both decide that one of you will take care of all the grooming needs, vaccinations, or any other upkeep your pet needs. The other can pay a certain percentage of all the cost. Another way is to take turns taking the pet and paying the entire cost. In the event of an emergency, you can write up an agreement that says you will split the cost of all major vet bills. You don't want an argument to arise if your pet ends up sick or injured.

Have Compassion

You might be tempted to just add your pet to your list and tell your spouse to get a new dog. However, your dog has been bonding with both of you. If you don't do it for your spouse, do it for your dog. Studies have proven that dogs bonding with their owners is similar to babies bonding with their parents. In the studies, the dogs were observed after being separated with their owners. Once separated, the dogs were less motivated to play and receive treats. When unfamiliar humans were brought into the room with the pets, the dogs did not become significantly happier. Once owners were brought back into the room, the dogs played and worked hard to earn treats. This shows that you can't just take a dog away from an owner without negative psychological effects.

When getting a divorce, make sure you workout proper custody arrangements for your dog. Your pet has been loved like your child, and it needs to continue to be treated like one. Contact a divorce lawyer through a site like to talk about custody agreements.

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