Don’t buy a dog to win a custody case
Puppies have a way of showing up around the holidays, but here’s a word of warning: Don’t buy a dog or cat to improve your chances of winning a child custody case. Family pets can become a child’s best friend, but when the child is shuffling from one home to another, many problems may ensue.
A new puppy or kitten needs attention. If one parent gives the pet to the child as a gift, where will the pet stay when the child spends time with the other parent? Will the pet have just one home, or will the pet move back and forth with the child? Will the child yearn to be wherever the pet is? These questions are not easy to answer.
Perhaps the worst situation is when a parent deliberately gives a child a pet as a tactical device to win the child’s affections, with the hope that the child will reject the parent, and the home, where the pet doesn’t live. This tactic never succeeds for long. It’s not fair to the other parent; it’s not fair to the child, and it’s not fair to the pet.
If you’re in a co-parenting and time-sharing arrangement with the children, don’t get a pet without talking to each other. The decision to care for a dog or cat is generally a big one in an intact family; it is all-the-more important in a divided family.