How do pets get shared when couples separate and divorce?

Pets are an important part of our lives. What happens to pets when a couple separates or divorces?

A pet can be a treasured companion for a couple or family. If the couple separate, deciding how pets will be cared for can be a very upsetting part of the process.

From a legal point of view, in family law proceedings pets are treated like chattels and no special mention is made of them in legislation. Sometimes the costs of caring for pets will come into maintenance calculations, but the pet  itself is an item of personal property on divorce.

In some situations court intervention has been requested regarding pets.  The court will focus of the legal ownership and registration and purchase of a pet along with who has been primarily responsible for vet costs and bills. The court can order transfer of ownership of a pet.  A legal pet owner would then have no binding obligation to give the non-legal owner access to the pets.

Mediation can be a good way to resolve issues relating to pets, allowing you to put the welfare of a pet as a priority and keep disruption to a minimum. Animals are often sensitive to change in routine and this may impact their behaviour and wellbeing. Arrangements for sharing pets and how this can be managed (if appropriate for the animal) can also be discussed.  

For more information or to discuss any concerns you may have, please contact us athello@familymandm.co.uk or call us on 0800 206 2258. You can also book a free 20 minute call with us using the Book Now facility on our website.

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