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How to deal with the tough issue of pet custody

Imagine that after months and months of disagreement, and a creeping sense that you and your spouse simply can't hold the marriage together, the two of you decide that it is time to divorce. As you have this difficult conversation with your spouse, your adorable golden retriever walks up, wagging his tail. The two of you bought him together years ago. You and your spouse look at the dog, then back at each other -- and the same question crosses your minds.

What are we going to do about the dog?

Pets are notoriously difficult to deal with in a divorce situation. Legally, they are actually considered property, which creates some obvious issues. If the pet was bought with contributions from both spouses, then the question of "who gets the dog after divorce" becomes complicated. If one spouse bought it with his or her money before the marriage, then it is less of a problem -- but still an issue.

Ultimately, you and your spouse should do everything in your power to reach an amicable agreement before the case reaches court. That way, you and your spouse are in control of the pet custody arrangement.

Once you have that basic understanding in place (that you won't fight out pet custody in court), you can work out a schedule that allows for both of you to enjoy some time with your pet. You can also discuss financial considerations for supplies, food, toys and other things your dog will need without unnecessary meddling from the court.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: The Fight for Your Pet in Divorce," Caroline Choi, Nov. 24, 2014

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