The aftermath of divorce can impact a family in so many ways, and not only will their relationships and living arrangements change, but their pet ownership can also be affected by it. These days, not only are couples battling it out to get custody of their children, but a lot of pet owners are also willing to go to court to get custody of their dogs. A recent survey has shown that 80 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family, and because of the way we rely on our pets for companionship, judges in some states are required to consider the pet’s health and well-being in divorce cases, just as they would when reviewing child custody cases. If you’re going through a divorce and are willing to co-parent your fur baby with your ex, you need to know your rights, as well as what both of you need to do to make the transition easier for your pet. Here’s a guide to share custody of your dog after divorce.
Know who is the rightful owner
Most people who are going through a divorce opt for a name change in order to regain their independence and identity, and many choose to move to another city or state to start their lives anew. But if you’re planning to share custody of your dog, you might want to hold off on both for the meantime until you can come up with an arrangement that will benefit both of you – and your pet. The court usually awards ownership to the person who registered the pet and renews the license tag every year, so a name change before getting legal rights to your dog may make things too complicated at the moment. Also, moving to a different state may make co-parenting your fur baby more costly and difficult, so establish who is the rightful owner first; then from there, come up with a shared custody plan that will work for all parties involved.
Come up with a schedule
Dogs thrive when they stick to a routine, so come up with a visitation schedule. If you live within the same city or town, you and your ex can each keep your pet on a weekly basis, or the rightful owner can keep the dog during the weekdays while the other can have them on the weekends. If you live far away from each other, agree on which months you can keep the dog, and come up with an arrangement on how to transport them once it’s time for the other person to keep them. You should also be clear on where your fur baby will spend the holidays so both of you can bond separately with your dog during special times of the year.
Watch your dog for signs of separation anxiety
Dogs can experience separation anxiety after a divorce, and they show it by barking, howling, urinating and defecating in the house, destroying items, or escaping, so make sure to help them cope during this major life change. Maintain a routine, and take them to the park and feed them as per usual, and watch your mood so it doesn’t affect your fur baby. In case your dog’s behavior does not improve, seek the help of a certified animal behaviorist or a certified dog trainer.
Your dog’s wellbeing should be prioritized while you’re going through a divorce. Try these tips to share custody of your fur baby, and keep communication lines open with your ex to make sure that you make the best decisions for your beloved dog.
Article by: Jane Anderson, a freelance writer, editor and dog owner