If you are a dog owner, you probably feel like your dog is part of your family, maybe even like a child. The worst thing to imagine is losing your dog. Unfortunately, this happens to many couples who split up and then fight over their dog. One person will end up without their beloved puppy. There are a few steps you can take to avoid this fate.
Put your name on the contract. When you buy or adopt a pet, make sure that both of your names are on the contract, as well as any paperwork at the vet's office. Your name should also be on city licensing forms if you need a dog license, as well as the microchip information. Although you may not think of pets as property, owning a pet is like owning a house. If it does come time to go your separate ways, having your name on the contract is a valuable way to prove ownership of the dog. You'll need to prove ownership, not just that you have taken care of the dog, if you want to win custody.
Have a plan. Although most couple wait until they split up to make this plan, it is a wise decision to make a canine custody plan with your partner or roommate when you adopt the dog. Many books about dog ownership have sample dog ownership plans you can customize to your situation. Although you may not like to think of the possibilities when you are excited about bringing your new dog home, doing so can help ensure that your dog will not get caught in the middle should you want to go your separate ways.
Include pets in your divorce proceedings. If you have not written a plan, form an ownership plan at the same time you are separating the rest of your household. Establish a visitation schedule, or compromise with your partner. For example, if you have two dogs, you may need to split them up to avoid one person getting both dogs and the other getting neither. This involves compromise on both parts, so it helps if you can remain civil with each other. If this is not the case, you may be in for a long and drawn-out canine custody battle.
Be prepared for court. Although it's not ideal, if neither side is willing to compromise you may end up with a canine custody battle in court. To be successful in court, you may want to gather photos of you and the dog to assert your emotional connection to your canine companion. Remember that a judge will probably not understand your emotional connection to your dog, and cannot decide based solely on that, so bring any evidence you have of owning the dog, such as vet records or contracts.
Pets are increasingly becoming a battleground in divorce cases. In many ways, avoiding a canine custody battle involves the same steps needed to avoid a child custody battle. If you do not have a plan in place, you may end up in court, spending thousands in legal fees trying to keep your dog.