Should you keep your dog after the divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2018 | Divorce & Legal Separation |

Recently, California changed the proceedings for divorcing pet owners by passing Assembly Bill 2274. Whereas the state before treated dogs and cats as part of the assets divided between the two parties, it now authorizes the court to assign sole or joint ownership of the animal after considering several factors between both parents. Essentially, pet custody just became more like child custody.

As the state now recognizes the importance of divorcee pet ownership in the courtroom, it is time for you to do so as well. You must consider if fighting for your dog in the proceedings is worth the time and the impact having one would take after your separation is finalized. To do so, you have to see which advantages on which side would ultimately be more beneficial for your immediate and far future.

The costs of keeping the dog

There’s a good chance you and your spouse reviewed the different costs of keeping a dog in your home when you adopted one. However, the circumstances are much different now. You either have to take turns looking after Fido or have sole ownership over him. Whichever route it takes, you will be spending a sizable portion of your money looking after them. Recent studies show that the average cost of owning a dog over its lifetime can range between $27,000 to $42,500. If you owned your dog for a couple years prior to the divorce, expect to see an increase in medical bills soon.

You must consider if the costs of keeping your dog will negatively impact your financial recovery. You and your spouse are in a difficult situation after dividing the property and changing homes. For some, dogs make it harder to move on both financially and emotionally. Your dog could be a reminder of your failed marriage, and who knows if you meet someone new in the future that could be allergic to canines.

The benefits of keeping the dog

For many, keeping the dog or sharing joint custody is worth debating in the courtroom. Several studies demonstrate that dog owners are more physically active than non-pet owners. Constant walking means more chances to keep the likelihood of heart attacks down and to lower your blood pressure. They encourage you to take thousands of more steps per day and to go outside even when it is cold or raining.

They are also beneficial for your mental health. Multiple reports confirm that owning a dog can decrease stress and give you an immense feeling of satisfaction. Dogs can also help you connect with other people and allow you to be more social, potentially increasing your chances to find someone new after your previous partner.

After you think about how crucial your dog would be in your post-marital life, make sure to inform your family law attorney. They can help you form a strategy based on your preferences to help you fight for your dog or to focus on other marital properties.