Who gets the pet if a couple divorce?
2 January 2020
It is estimated that over 40% of households in the UK have a pet, with dogs and cats as the main animals of choice.
Divorce can often be a stressful process and separating couples can take comfort in their pets. If a couple do not have children, often their pets seem as important to them as a child would be. Any disagreement could become emotionally charged and therefore more difficult to resolve.
Although at times hard to accept, pets are treated in the same way as a car or house. If there is a dispute it would be dealt with at the same time as the divorce settlement. As with all other marital property, the needs and resources of the separating couple are considered. If a spouse doesn’t have enough income to meet their need, then there is a question whether it affordable for them to keep the family pet. This may not be a significant issue if the pet is a cat or dog but if the payments are considerable, say for a horse, then whether the pet is affordable is of more concern.
Arrangements for a pet entirely depend on how amicable the separation is. At any point before, during or after the marriage, the parties can enter into an agreement to deal with the sharing of the matrimonial finances, including arrangements for the family pet.
Ultimately, if a couple cannot reach an agreement on what will happen to the family pet then the matter will be decided by the court, they will consider all circumstances of the case, if there are children, then the likelihood, in a dispute, is that the pet will go with them.
Mediation is a very good way for people to discuss future arrangements for their pets and our expert mediators can assist.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at January 2020.