For many of us – our pets are our children – so when it comes to separation, working out who gets to keep the ‘fur-babies’ can be one of the most difficult areas for couples to agree on.
Pets and seperation
While many of us think of our pets as our children, unfortunately the courts don’t see it that way. Generally, under the law a pet is viewed as a ‘chattel’, or property, the same as other property assets the couple holds. This means that when deciding who will keep the pet, the courts tend to focus on considerations like :
- Who paid for the purchase and upkeep of the pet.
- Who was largely responsible for the care of the pet.
- Who has the most time available to care for the pet, or who has the more appropriate residence to house the pet.
While these are all very ‘practical’ considerations, they don’t take into account the emotional attachment we have with our pets, or the emotional attachment that our children may have with the pet.
Finding the best outcome for all involved
Whether you’re a couple or a family, separating and adjusting to a new life is a big upheaval for all involved (including the fur-babies). For this reason, we always encourage couples to reach agreement on who gets the family pet themselves.
In some instances, a visitation agreement can be an ideal solution – allowing each person to have time with the pet. This solution can work particularly well for families, with the pet following the same visitation or shared custody schedule as the kids.
If you and your partner are struggling to decide who will keep the pets, mediation can be a really good way to find a workable agreement and avoid letting the courts decide.
If you’re thinking about separating, feel free to get in touch – we’re here to help you understand your different options, how the law applies to your situation and offer valuable advice.