Pet Custody After a Breakup

If you’ve been with your significant other long enough to adopt yourself a fur baby, it can be tough when it comes time to part ways to decide who exactly is going to continue to care for your pet. While the law sees your animal as a possession to be settled the same as any other item, any pet owner knows it’s not quite that simple.

More often than not these events go down very similar to a custody battle over kids. In some cases couples even start agreeing upon visitation times, choosing to have one of them take care of the pet while the other sees them on the weekend. This usually doesn’t work out, as having to come and pick up a pet and inevitably see your ex adds unnecessary time onto the grieving process. These situations usually end with one of you becoming essentially a deadbeat pet parent, avoiding visitation times and eventually cutting ties altogether.

When deciding who will take care of your furry friend there are a couple of things you should consider:

Who is Better Able to Take Care of Your Pet

Often times one party is better suited to owning a pet than the other. This can come down to a handful of factors. Does your ex live in a house with a big backyard while you’re living in a tiny studio apartment? Are you working part-time while he is working 60 hour work weeks? Which one of you is able to better support your pet financially?

Often times answering these questions will be all you have to do in order to figure the situation out, as a lot of these differences are really game changers. It’s not fair to stuff your dog into a tiny apartment because you and your boyfriend have cut ties, and should the worse happen, the one who ends up with your pet should be financially secure enough to front the costs of expensive vet bills.


Which One of You is the Primary Caregiver

If it’s not as cut and dry as the previous point, you should start looking at which of the two of you has been the primary caregiver. If you were the one who wanted your pet and you have been the one feeding, walking and cuddling up with them at night you generally have a larger claim than your partner and vice-versa.

Often times one of you never really wanted the pet to begin or may feel having an animal the two of you shared to hard to deal with after the breakup. Having a living, eating, barking reminder of your failed love is often too much for some people to deal with.

What is Better for the Pet

If your pet tends to have a stronger connection with one of you, it will make this decision very easy. Your pet had no say in the end of your relationship, and to tear them away from your significant other when it clearly has a strong connection with them is not fair to him/her. Same as when dealing with kids, you really have to put your pets needs first.

Above all, you need to do what’s best for the pet. This is another reason why joint custody really isn’t ideal, as the majority of pets do not deal well with constant changes.

Do not fight for your pet solely to take a stab at your ex. Once the dust settles you’ll likely find yourself with an unwanted burden on you both emotionally and financially, and your pet will be stuck in a home where it’s not being cared for properly or receiving the love and attention it needs.

At the end of the day, the pet comes first.



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