December 15, 2008

Divorce, DINK Style

DINK, for the uninitiated, stands for Dual Income, No Kids, which is the way more and more married couples live. And, predictably, when these marriages end, the custody hearings could become as unique and contentious as those involving couples with children. And more and more, dogs are caught in the middle of the new DINK divorces.

They are increasingly being asked to draw up legal agreements to set out custody and 'dog visiting rights'.

In some cases, feuding couples have spent up to £25,000 on court battles, which have involved calling in animal behaviour experts.

Partners who lived together but never married are also drawing up agreements after splitting.

Grant Howell, a family law partner at London firm Charles Russell, said one couple's row about access to their Jack Russell terrier had become so acrimonious the court felt it necessary to settle the dispute first because it was distracting from other points of the divorce.

'With animals it becomes very emotional,' he added. 'It's almost a peg on which to hang all the other frustrations and to try and get the better of the other person.'

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