Dogs in Divorce (and other furry friends too)
Dogs and cats are more than just “pets” to many people. Many consider their 4-legged friends to be family members. You do not need to look far to find a dog or cat with their very own social media page, and yes, you should follow them. Who doesn’t love adorable pictures of animals to brighten each day? So, what happens to the beloved dog or cat when his or her humans separate or divorce? Custody and visitation schedules? Splitting costs of food and vetting?
If you and your spouse are amicable enough to come up with an agreement for your beloved pets post-split, that is great. It is rare these custody agreements work long term. A couple who were divorced shared custody of their little shih-tzus. All was working well until the ex-husband began dating. The ex-wife decided she no longer wished to uphold the parties’ verbal custody agreement and discontinued all visitation. Even if there had been a written agreement, it would be nearly impossible to enforce. The visitation seemed like a good idea at the time, but continuing visitation with pets can force continued contact that would not otherwise be necessary. This can make the healing process after divorce even more difficult and drawn out.
Are you wondering if you should keep the pet?
•· Who is the pet more attached to?
•· Are you financially able to provide vetting and care for the pet if he/she gets sick?
•· Do you have the time?
•· Do you travel more or less than your soon-to-be-ex?
•· Did you come into the relationship with the pet?
•· What is in the best interest of your pet?
•· Will your new living situation be dog friendly?
•· Do you really want the pet, or do you just not want your other half to have him/her?
As a dog lover myself, I understand the deep pain of being separated from your best friend/companion. I am not saying it will be easy or ideal, but ultimately you have to ask yourself if the visitation of your pet will work long term, or, if it is just a Band-Aid for the inevitable. The BEST advice I can offer you if you do not receive your pet in the divorce – find a local rescue. Local dog and cat rescues are always looking for volunteers, fosters, and of course, people to adopt! The reward you will feel and the difference you will be making in another animal’s life can help the healing process of not just the loss of your pet, but healing from your ended relationship as well.