What to Do With the Family Dog When Getting Divorced

Divorce is a really big struggle for many families in the UK. It is a time of fraught emotions and upheaval, for all people involved in the family. When going through the divorce process, many families have to decide how the children will be able to cope with the situation, and arrangements need to be made with the children’s best interests in mind.

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But something else which has often become a difficult part of divorce, is also what will happen to any dogs that are in the family. After all, for most pet owners, the dog is just as much a part of the family as any human family member, and this can also bring additional heartbreak when it comes to divorce.

Dog ownership in the UK boomed during lockdown of 2020 – with most people being at home for the majority of the time, many more families decided that this was the ideal opportunity for them to have a dog, which wouldn’t have previously fit in with their lifestyle if they were out at work a lot.

This means that what happens to a dog when people divorce is likely to be a much more common problem in the future. Of course, when you get divorced, you get a solicitor who deals with this like this family law Gloucester based solicitor – but where do dogs stand when it comes to divorce and the law?

In UK law, pets are classed as property, so come under the same laws as furniture, cars and any other property. If one of the couples has proof in their name only that it is them who owns the dog, then they will be able to claim ownership and keep it with them. Other things may also be considered, such as who does the majority of care for the dog, the name that the microchip is in, the person who is registered with the vet and who actually purchased the dog in the first place.

Of course, in some circumstances things may not be this clear cut – for example if one party does own the animal but with the change in the situation after the divorce, such as moving to a small property unsuitable to meet the needs of the dog, or working longer hours, it may not be possible for them to provide the appropriate care for it. If this is the case for both parties and the dog cannot be properly cared for any longer due to the change in circumstances, often the heart-breaking decision must be made to contact an animal rescue charity in order to find the dog a new and more suitable home. Although this is tough, ultimately it is in the best interests of the dog.

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Something else that can work for many divorced couples is shared custody of the dog – much like with the children. For example, one person may have it for half the week or maybe on the weekends. Remember to always make these decisions with the dog’s welfare and health at the forefront of the decision.