Who Gets the Dog When You Divorce?

Divorce isn’t only about whether you will get the house, a share of it and the money. What happens when the family pet is wanted by both partners, and your divorce lawyer must find an agreement about how the pet should be treated or is it just another piece of property to be allocated to one or the other?

Do You Treat Your Dog as A Child Custody Dispute?

Unsurprisingly, a court will consider the pet’s best interests when considering their decisions and the outcome. Your divorce lawyer should present the best possible case and scenario for the dog to live with one of the divorcing couples as opposed to the other.

The outcome for considering who will look after the dog can be as contentious as dealing with disputes over child custody. Where you cannot make an agreement through your divorce lawyer, judges and mediators may be involved in making the final decision.

Should the court be forced into deciding, they will consider which partner can best take full care of the basic daily needs of the animal, including visits to the veterinarian and continuing to socialize and train the dog. They will also consider the financial implications of caring for the pet.

Providing the Best Care

Where one partner can clearly provide better care and stability for the animal than the other, the choice may be straightforward. Where this is not the case, both partners will need to consider shared custody as one of the options.

The law treats a pet as personal property, although pets are often considered as a close family member. In many circumstances, divorcing partners take more time and consideration over the fight to win custody of their pet, than worrying about pensions and other financial arrangements.

Some decisions about pets are easily concluded because some breeds of dog tend to attach themselves to one human and not two. In other environments, where the dog is believed to be owned by both partners, it is always best to put the animal’s interests first so that you can make a sensible decision, in conjunction with your divorce lawyer.


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