Question: I recently got a divorce and we settled everything amicably, from our finances to property. The one thing we are still fighting over is our little dog. She was mine to begin with. I had her before we met, so I feel the dog is mine. However, my ex-wife is planning to sue me over this dog. She has become very attached to the dog and has demanded we share custody of it as if it was a child. I told her that was the stupidest thing I had ever heard and she became very angry. I think it’s just a ploy to still be in my life somehow. I would be hurt if I had to give up the dog, but it’s getting ridiculous. What should I do?
Answer: First off, the dog is yours. If you had the dog before coming into the relationship, then it is yours. I’m not saying your ex-wife doesn’t love the dog as much as you, but if she sues, I can’t imagine she would be awarded the dog. I think it is a lot more than just the dog.
I think you are correct in saying that it is still a ploy to stay in your life. I don’t know your ex-wife, but now that all the finances and property are figured out, it seems this is the last thing she can hold on to stay in your life. Divorces are often messy situations, and I’m sorry you have to go through this.
As advice, I would suggest asking your ex-wife what the real problem is behind this situation. Maybe once you get the underlying problem out in the open, you can get past fighting about the dog. Really, though, there is no fight. The dog is yours.
Another answer: I agree, it’s your dog, and you should have it. But pets become an integral part of life and sharing them after a divorce as you would a child is not as silly as it sounds. If you Google “pets and divorce laws,” you’ll see a number of states grappling with this issue.
Most laws treat pets as property, but some courts have set up parenting plans for pets, which would include custody visits.
I think all pet lovers realize that animals can be much more than property, and that’s why you’re in this position. I’m deducing from your question that the two of you have no children. Childless couples will have more attachment to pets.
If everything was amicable, you and your ex probably didn’t use lawyers, but you may have to get one to take custody of your dog. Not knowing the specifics of your case, I’m not sure whether your wife is using the dog to stay close to you or if she just loves the dog. You can try talking to her, as Lynelle suggests, but it seems like she’s in no mood to communicate with you.
If the dog is important to you, you might have to settle the matter legally. Despite your wife’s attachment to the animal, your attachment goes back before you met her so she would need an extreme argument (such as documented pet abuse) to take the dog from you.
This Q&A from the Herald Bulletin.