Whilst some owners are busy fighting over who gets to keep the dog, some couples find that they simply cannot take care of their dog once they separate. Some dogs end up in the care of rehoming centres like Dogs Trust.
It’s heartbreaking to think that, on top of everything a family goes through in a divorce or separation, their beloved pet be drawn into the battle. Sadly in some cases the change in circumstances makes it impossible for the dog to stay with either of his previous owners.
After going on a mini break together and then sharing a home it looks like couples see the natural next step as owning a dog together. However, with a dog’s life lasting longer than the average marriage it is becoming all too common for the dog to then end up in the care of rehoming centres like Dogs Trust. Dogs are not like expensive jewellery or fixtures and fittings and cannot be divided as easily. After all ‘a Dog is for Life’ and the cost of looking after one – as a couple and independently - needs to be considered before bringing one into your family to avoid having to give it up should the unthinkable happen down the line.
Currently there are no legally binding documents in the UK that couples can use to prepare for such an eventuality. Dogs Trust suggests that if a couple is considering getting a dog together they, at the very least, consider these three questions before doing so:
If you had to, can you each afford to look after the dog independently?
Do you have a support network that could help look after the dog if things went wrong?
If you were to split up could you agree at the outset who would take
* Length of average dogs life – 12 -15 years source: Dogs Trust. Length of average marriage – 8 years: Source – Relate
Pets are being used as “bait” by parents arguing over custody of their children, according to lawyers. Almost half the members of Consensus Collaboration Scotland (CCS), a network of 180 family lawyers that promotes a collaborative approach to divorce, have handled divorce cases in the past year in which pets have become a contested issue. They say that during some cases, the animals have been used to influence children, who sometimes see the family pet as their main ally. In some parents’ eyes, where the dog or cat goes, the children will want to go, too. In other cases, pets have been put up for adoption when no agreement can be made about their future living arrangements, or where an agreement about the cost of care cannot be reached.