Will your divorce involve a fight over Fido?

You’re one of millions of people in New York and across the country who considers your dog a family member rather than merely a pet. You love your fur baby or babies, if you have more than one. If you recently filed for divorce or are considering it, you might feel anxious and stressed about what will happen to your beloved pet companion.

Just as your children’s well-being is your top priority, issues concerning your dog are also matters of importance, especially if you suspect that your spouse is going to try to take revenge against you by not being fair in devising a post-divorce pet plan. Sadly, nearly 30% of pets wind up being rehomed when their owners divorce.

Unconditional pet love may help you and your children cope

Whether you welcomed your dog or other pet into your family less than a year ago or have enjoyed its company for a decade or more, you no doubt have experienced the joy of unconditional love and loyalty that a fur friend can bring to your life. Just because you want to divorce your spouse doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up the companionship your pet provides.

Caring for a pet can also help you and your children maintain a sense of normalcy and routine as you come to terms with changes that your divorce will cause. Losing your pet might intensify feelings of emotional distress and sorrow, which is why it’s understandable that you would want to fight against your ex trying to take your dog or other pet away from you.

Which type of arrangement would be best for your pet?

If you and your kids have always been the primary caretakers of your pet during your marriage, it’s only natural to want to continue in those roles after your divorce. You might also want to consider sharing custody of your pet, especially if your children will be traveling back and forth between two households. Having their pet with them in both houses may be beneficial as they adapt to their new lifestyle.

Property division or custody agreement?

In the past, determining who gets a pet or how expenses and care of a pet will be divided between spouses in a divorce has typically been handled as part of property division proceedings. Nowadays, however, more and more judges are addressing such issues more like a custody case than property litigation.

It’s okay to feel a strong emotional attachment to your pet and to want to obtain a fair agreement regarding where your pet will live and who will pay for the expenses associated with food, veterinarian bills, and other expenses after your divorce. It’s also okay to reach out for additional support as needed, perhaps from a friend who has litigated similar issues in a divorce or from a legal advocate who has helped others devise pet owner agreements as part of divorce proceedings.