Take My Ex to Court?

Dear Marie:

I know this question might sound strange but I'm at my wits' and and I don’t know what to do. So I'm writing to you. Maybe you'll have a suggestion about how to handle it. About a year ago my ex‐husband and I decided to get a divorce. We both wanted it. The marriage was not an easy one. Both of us are 'Type A personalities.' Each of us want to win and we fought constantly. Since we had only been married two years we thought we could get everything settled quickly. The problem is "how do we share custody of our dog, Benji? Benji, a golden retriever, came into our lives 6 months after we were married. He's 3 years old and the sweetest dog I ever had. He's my baby. I don’t want to part with him. Benji now spends weekends with me and the rest of the week with my ex. I want more time with him but my ex won’t budge. I know I agreed to this arrangement but it isn’t working for me. Should I take him to court and force him to give me more visitations?

-- More Dog Time in Washington

Dear More Dog Time:

Benji is very lucky to have two owners who love and care for him so much. If more people cared about their animals’ well being, the shelters wouldn’t overflow with unwanted animals. Both of you love Benji and understandably want what's best for him. The question is "who can give Benji the best care? Based on your letter, both of you are well qualified to care for him. Just wanting to spend more time with Benji is not a good enough reason to take your ex husband to court. If he were treating Benji poorly, I would say to take him to court. I suggest you ask for a meeting with your ex husband to talk openly about your needs. Both you and your ex husband have demonstrated that you can sit down together and work out a divorce amicably. Therefore, both of you should be able to discuss new arrangements for Benji. You might feel vulnerable, but this is the only way you stand a chance of getting more time with Benji. If your ex husband is a reasonable man and you're also reasonable with your requests, you can negotiate for more time. Start with what you both agree on and then work through what you would like to see change. Be honest but not confrontational. Confrontation puts others on the defensive which makes it unlikely you'll get what you want.

All the best!