We acknowledge breakups are hard, especially when children are involved. But it can also be a very complicated thing to figure out custody when there's joint ownership of a pet. If you're going through a breakup (oof, sorry) and are not sure how to deal with your pooch, here are some things to keep in mind.
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1. For the most part, if the dog belonged to one person before the relationship began, the dog should remain with that person.
If you adopted or purchased your pup prior to entering the relationship, it's more likely that the dog would stay with you (unless special circumstances prevented it). And actually, if things do start to get ugly (let's hope they don't), you'd stand a better chance in a legal custody battle if you can prove ownership. While we'd totally consider a pet to be a literal family member, they are in fact property in the eyes of the law.
2. If you adopted a dog together and have children, consider letting the dog go with the partner who takes main custody of the children.
The thinking here is that if you can take responsibility for human lives, then you are are also capable of caring for a pet. But, more importantly, if your kids have a real bond with your dog and vise-versa, you might not want to break up that bond, which could cause trauma to both parties.
3. If one of you is remaining in your home, consider placing the dog with that partner.
This can also eliminate stress on your pooch, who, undoubtedly, has already picked up on something troubling happening.
4. Evaluate which of you has the more flexible schedule.
If one of you works in an office and the other one works from home — and you don't see that changing in the foreseeable future — it might be a better idea to have the work-from-home partner take the dog.
5. And finally ... there's joint custody.
This can be complicated, especially if you haven't had an amicable breakup. In the case that you decide to co-parent, you'll want to be clear about the terms of the agreement — who gets the dog on which days? How will you split your pup's monthly costs? And what will you do if there needs to be a significant financial spend on your pet? The question you need to ask here is whether or not you really want to be in contact with your Ex for the next few years or decades even. You might think about a short-term agreement in which you share custody during the initial heartbreak, and then eventually transition the dog to one owner.