Two Dogs Caught in a Divorce: What Can You Do?
Divorces are usually messy enough without adding custody battles over dogs into the mix. But if you find yourself in a situation where your ex-husband wants to take one of the dogs but you don’t want to separate them, things can get tricky. Divorces are very personal; the situation between you and your ex will be very specific to you and him and you’ll need to decide whether you can reason with him out or if you’ll have to take this battle to the judge.
If there’s a way to avoid bringing the matter to a judge, you should try everything in your power to find that way: if you can, try to compromise out of court. But as divorces aren’t always so easy, it might be difficult to do this, and that’s where a judge is going to step in.
The way the law is currently written, dogs are regarded as property, and thus Buster and Lulu will likely be treated the same way a home or a car or furniture would be treated in a divorce. If you and your ex can’t come to a decision about what to do with the dogs, the court will decide for you, and that’s often based on whose name is on the dog’s registration and vet records. If you adopted Buster and Lulu as a couple, your chances are much better for keeping them both than if your ex brought one or both into the relationship from his own home first. If ownership is not so black and white, then the court will treat it a bit more like a child custody battle, deciding where the dogs would find a better home. Finances, size of house/yard and time spent at home all come into play in this case.
Divorce is going to be stressful for Buster and Lulu. They can sense human feelings and have probably been feeling the stress between you and your ex for a while. Depending on your situation, they might be changing locations to a new home. You want what’s best for them, and that would be trying to change things as little as possible.
Separating them will add stress to their lives and if they’re very close, they will miss each other. Whether or not the court treats them as objects of property or not, the fact is that they have feelings. If they were raised together, they’ve bonded and aren’t likely to enjoy separation.
The fact of the matter is you just want what’s best for your dogs. Just as the judge would use finances, size of house/yard and time spent at home to determine where the dogs should go, you should too. If keeping both dogs with you gives them the best life in terms of these things as well as staying together, then you’re making the right choice. But if you’re moving into a smaller space where two dogs would be uncomfortable living, or your finances will be tight supporting both of them, you should carefully consider your choice.
If it stands that both dogs would have a happy and abundant life with you, try to reason with your ex. If things get heated in person, try writing a letter instead. Make it clear that you’re not considering personal feelings at all and you simply want what’s best for these two loving creatures you’ve cared for so long. Your lawyer might be able to advise you about what a judge would do in a custody battle over the dogs; if it’s in your favor, let your ex know that he’ll probably lose if he fights. It may just sway him to let go.