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Dog Divorce

Pet Custody after Divorce

The issues concerning pet custody after the divorce process has ended are often not given the consideration that they deserve. The family pet in a divorce, dog or cat or whatever, is a unique member of the former family unit. The pets are loved ones torn in the matter in much the same way as the children. If carefully thought out, the pets can have equal spiritual healing power for the parties as the children in some cases. Any way that you can think of to get the pets involved and let them somehow know that they are an important part of the process will help owners and pets.

Temporary vs. Permanent Custody of the Pets

A divorce agreement should state who receives the pets or who will be responsible for finding them a new home if neither party can keep them. Only contest "pet custody" if you can prove that you were the one who took care of the animals during the marriage or if you can unarguably offer the pets a better home.

Should the matter of custody end up before the judge, the judge will not care who originally brought the pets into the home or paid for them. The recent year of care weighs more in the court room. Be prepared to show documentation or any evidence to prove your worthiness.

As with all issues in a divorce proceeding, try not to allow bitterness to interfere with doing the right thing. In the case of pets, this means seeing that the pets go to the best suited owner.

If the divorce involves children, make every attempt to allow the child to keep the pet. Losing an animal on top of all the other losses can be just too much for a child to bear. At this time, a child also needs someone to listen and be there with him or her.

Consider Temporary Custody

If something prevents either parent from moving to a place that takes pets, find a family friend or relative to care for your children's pets until the animal can live with the children. Make sure everyone realizes that the arrangement is temporary, and schedule regular visits for the children to see the pets at least once-a-week. In the meantime, have the children devote some allowance to the animal's regular upkeep. That helps the children realize that the pets are still theirs.

Have Your Children Correspond with the Pets

Children will often open up suppressed thoughts and concerns in writing that they hide in normal conversation. Consider using the family pets to open the lines of communication with your children. Something simple like an occasional postcard could lead to a larger, more detailed line of communication. Try to equal the success of your marital divorce with a successful "dog divorce".

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