Despite being a nation of pet lovers, new research from The Co-operative Legal Services shows nine out of ten couples (93%) haven’t given any thought as to what would happen to their dog, should they ever split up. Dog custody battles, particularly in cases where couples have divorced, can be tense, drawn out and messy affairs. Fighting for custody of a dog in a divorce or separation is not quite as simple as you might assume.

Dog Custody Research

The research also highlights one in three (31%) of animal loving couples fear their pets could become tug of love victims if they split up, according to research.

Almost one in ten (7%) couples have arranged a pre-nup agreement, also known as a ‘pre-pup’, in order to prevent a furry custody battle and ensure that if their relationship was to breakdown, clear guardianship arrangements would determine who would gain custody of the pet(s).

Further to this, almost a third (31%) of UK couples have or would consider putting an agreement in place in the event that their relationship breaks down. According to the research, 18-24 year-olds are most likely to put an agreement in place, with almost two fifths (38%) doing so, in comparison to only a tenth (11%) of adults aged 55 and over.

Who Wants to Keep Custody of the Dog in a Relationship Breakup?

Interestingly, although almost two fifths (39%) of couples surveyed jointly own the pet(s), with their partner, almost half (44%) of women compared to a quarter (23%) of men say that if the relationship was to break down, they would keep the pet(s). Worryingly, two fifths (38%) of UK adults admit that they have no idea what would happen to their furry companion if they split from their partner.

Tracey Maloney, Head of Private Family at The Co-operative Legal Services, said: “It’s encouraging that a tenth of couples have made decisions about the custody of their pets in the event that they separate.”

“Pets are increasingly being seen as part of the family and when relationships break down, it’s only at that point that couples begin to think about who will gain custody of their pet. A pre-nup agreement can help couples make these important decisions in advance, so that the worst does happen, both parties are clear on who will gain custody of their pet.”

Celebrities who have fought for dog custody:

– Kirsten Dunst and Jake Gyllenhall fought over their German Shepherd post-split

– Kate Moss and Jamie Hince are currently fighting over the custody of their dog Archie

– Lauren Goodger and Mark Wright eventually agreed to joint custody over chihuahua Wrighty after ending their engagement in 2011.

– Hugh Hefner agreed for Playboy bunny Crystal Harris to keep her engagement ring so long as he could keep their dog Charlie.

– Liam Gallagher reportedly consulted lawyers last autumn to seek access to the two dachshunds he shared with Nicole Appleton

– Cheryl Cole won custody of dogs Buster and Coco after her 2010 divorce from footballer Ashley Cole. They reportedly agreed to split their fortune equally, but Cheryl insisted that she keep the two chihuahuas full time.

– After golfer Rory McIlroy ended his six-year relationship with childhood sweetheart Holly Sweeney in 2011, the pair agreed a special custody arrangement for their dogs Theo, a labradoodle, and Gus, a cocker spaniel. Rory kept the dog bult allowed Holly visitation rights.

– When Emma Shepherd separated from her husband last autumn, they amicably agreed how to divide the house, furniture and finances. But there was one battle she didn’t foresee: who would get custody of their beloved pet dog

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1 comment
  1. My ex-wife brought a dog into the household. I took the dog to obedience training and the dog was then registered in my name. The judge awarded the dog to me for the above reasons. I had the dog for 14 years.

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