December 14, 2021
Who gets the dog if we split? | Dog Edition #44

Divorce, it is hard at best, nasty at worst. Then throw couples who argue over who gets the dog and you have a right royal mess. So where do you turn if your dog ends up being fought over like a piece of furniture?

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It is the last step after a long, protracted unhappy few months. Everything collected as a couple over a lifetime is divided up as one becomes two and they go their separate ways. But what about the dog? How is that going to work and how do you keep the dog’s best interest a priority?

Who gets the dog if we split?

At a time when dog ownership is growing and the way people see dogs in a family setting is getting more complex, so too is the need to consider dogs during divorce.

Legal disputes are on the rise over who will get the dog, and with dogs considered chattels, like furniture, in most jurisdictions, stories are rife of couples fighting in court, sometimes just to spite their ex-partner.

While some states in the US and in other parts of the world are changing the law so judges have leeway to consider the best interests of pets during a divorce, like they do children, it is not across the board.

But an emerging industry of mediators and Petnups has developed, to help couples negotiate who will get the dog. Pet custody specialist Karis Nafte is a mediator who helps people decide the best way forward for their dog and in this episode, she walks us through all the ins and outs of what to know for your dog, before, during and after a split.

About Karis Nafte, Pet Custody Specialist

Originally from the USA, Karis started working with dogs professionally in 1996. She has hugely varied background in animal work; puppy training, doggy daycare, obedience, behavior problems, dog sports, aggressive dogs, shelter work, and on set movie training with a variety of animal species. After recognizing the need for ‘dog centered mediation’ during divorce, Karis became an internationally accredited family mediator. After 26 years of experience and working with thousands of dogs, she combines her wealth of knowledge animal behavior with mediation to help her clients make the best decision for their dog’s long-term wellbeing during divorce. Her goal is to help her clients see the dogs not as weapons or leverage against their ex, nor as human children, but as the individuals they are with their own needs. She collaborates with mediators and attorneys worldwide as well as offering regular webinars to educate divorce professionals about pets and divorce. In 2005 Karis moved to South Africa on a vacation, fell in love with the country, and decided to stay put. She lives there with her husband, daughter, 3 cats and 4 dogs. Known for her humane and effective training and behavior solutions, Karis is a nationally known and well-respected dog behavior consultant, regularly appearing on TV and radio in South Africa. She is a judge for the South African Dog Agility Association, and a licensed animal wrangler for the film industry.

Who Keeps the