What Happens to My Dog If I Get Divorced?

52% of divorcees are willing to spend time with an estranged ex purely to visit a beloved pet. According to research , animal loving Brits admit they’re more likely to argue over the custody of a much-loved dog during a relationship breakdown than the ownership of the house. When partners begin to fight, the question will often be: who keeps the dog in a divorce?

The study of more than 2,000 adults, conducted by Norwich Union, revealed that seven in ten of us would choose our dog over ownership of the house in the event of leaving our partner – 71% versus 65%.The findings also reveal pets are becoming a more complex part of relationship dynamics.

Over a third of young women attempt to make partners jealous by going behind their back to win the favour of a pampered pet. More alarmingly, one in five of those approaching childrearing years (16-24) use the purchase of an animal to vet a partners potential parenting skills.Pet behavioural expert, Carrie Evans, commented on the findings.”

A household pet can function as a third person in a relationship, a role which enables them to manipulate the behaviour of both parties and disrupt the balance. This has been evident during TV reality show Big Brother with the housemates forming close bonds with the resident chickens.”

While a third of respondents admit pets and their upkeep can be a cause of arguments, it’s surprising that almost a quarter of those questioned are prepared to commit to a pet by the time they move in with a partner,if not earlier.”With the number of divorces on the increase – rising from 166,737divorces in 2003, to 167,116 in 2004, Norwich Union would suggest the owners of the 15 million pets in the UK think about the future provisions of their pets by considering creating a “pet-nuptial”agreement.

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Over a quarter of respondents said they would sign a “pet-nuptial” to outline the roles and responsibilities of pet ownership and prevent the potential heartache involved during an acrimonious split. Making custody decisions puts extra strain on parting couples demanding visiting rights, with over half (52%) willing to spend time with an estranged ex purely to visit a beloved pet.

And it’s not just the couple who can be affected. Paul Fowle at Norwich Union explains:

“When a relationship breaks down it can be a difficult time for everyone concerned – and this includes the family pet. If youfind your pet is pining it may be because they are missing one of their owners. Your vet may recommend a consultation with an animal behavioural specialist. Check if, like ours, your insurance will cover this treatment.

“Even celebrity couples have not escaped the bitter battle of custody arrangements. Recent disputes include Amanda Holden’s and Les Dennis’s fight for their “surrogate children,” West Highland Terriers Nobby and Fudge. Football legend George Best also took on his ex wife Alex for the parental ownership of Irish Setters Rua and Red.

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Jasmine Kleine

Jasmine Kleine

Jasmine Kleine is the the online editor at MyDogMagazine.com. She is an experienced dog owner and professional writer who lives with her two beloved dogs, Mabel and Charlie.

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