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Many couples consider their pet a member of the family and consider shared custody following a break-up. However, there may be some obstacles that present themselves in this situation. So, before deciding on sharing Fido with your ex, it might be worth considering some of the following:

Considerations before sharing custody of pets

1. Make sure your ex is sincere about sharing custody of your pet. If he/she has never showed much interest or been part of caring for your pet then your ex may have ulterior motives. One possibility is that they want to use the pet as a way to keep in contact with you.

2. If your ex is bent on wanting custody of your pet and you doubt his/her sincere interest, you may want to consider buying this person out. You could pay for half the cost you incurred when buying the pet or another agreed upon amount. It may seem financially unfair, but you will know your pet is yours and in the best home possible.

3. Now that you will both have separate residences, it will be important to make sure that each person has reasonable space and time to care for your pet.

4. Arrange in writing, the care of the pet and who will be responsible for annual and emergency veterinarian bills. This should be part of the divorce decree or separation agreement, if possible. If you are not legally married, it might be a good idea to ask a local attorney if he or she could put together a mutual agreement with details related to the shared custody and financial arrangements.

5. When deciding on who gets Fido and for how long, it might be a good idea to discuss having one owner eventually relinquish custody with occasional visitation until the specified date.

6. Fido is adorable, but remember that this agreement will tie you to someone for the life of your pet. Think about how awkward it might be when you move on with your life and you are still in contact with your ex, sharing custody of your four legged friend. While it may seem reasonable to you and many pet owners, some may find this contact unnecessary or unusual.

7. It might be a good idea to arrange a short term shared custody to see how well it works with your schedules, relationship and new living arrangement.

8. You will need to consider how well you trust that your ex will care for your pet and follow the arrangements of your agreement, especially if it has not been put in writing.

9. When deciding if this is a good idea, think about what will be in the best interest of your pet. If you think your pet will have a difficult time traveling between homes, you might want to reconsider. Otherwise, set-up visitation instead of shared custody. Visitation would give him/her the chance to be with the pet on occasion so that the pet can still be part of his/her life, just not routinely. Your ex could take the pet for walks or pet sit at his/her place.

10. Consider temporary visitation or temporary custody. Either will give one owner time to be with the pet until he/she phases out of the pet's life. You could both remain financially responsible for the pet. Read the DMK article "Who Keeps the Dog" for more information on pet custody and petimony. -OurDMK.com



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