Divorcing with pets: who gets custody of the dog?
When you acquire a dog during your marriage, the pup becomes part of the family. You and your spouse may consider your pet another child between you. Unfortunately, unless you live in Illinois, Alaska or California, the law looks at your dog as property — this is true of New Jersey.
According to U.S. News, couples often use mediation to handle concerns about dog custody.
Is split custody good for your dog?
While your dog is part of the family, you have to remember that dogs have different needs from children. Likewise, they have a further understanding of the world. They may not understand a custody schedule or why you want to rotate them from house to house. Sharing custody may cause dogs more harm than good. They may become stressed when one-half of the couple leaves. While this does not necessarily mean that one spouse cannot visit the dog, you do not want to treat your pup like one of your kids.
Who should have the dog full time?
When it comes to who should have custody of the dog, you may want to think about the dog’s best interests. Often, pets bond strongest with one person. Additionally, you have to think objectively about who may take better care of the animal. In some cases, people determine which keeps the dog during a divorce ahead of time. For example, when you adopt a pet, you and your spouse can decide the name on the adoption paperwork.
Your pup is a part of the family and determining who should have custody can become a complex issue. The law sees the dog as property, but you can work with your spouse to agree in the pet’s best interests.