How do you decide what happens to pets if their owners split up?

Often the emotional attachment to our pets can be strong and an emotional part of the decisions made in divorce and separation.

The law and case law gives us guidance on how assets should be divided and how the family court will consider the welfare of children.  However, the law in England and Wales does not make provision for how a Court will decide who can keep the family pet and the law treats pets as chattels and as such there is no specific legislative provision in relation to the ownership of pets on divorce or separation and very limited case law.

In these circumstances, the courts tend to treat pets in the same way as personal property or household contents. Often these issues are decided out of court but if a court does have to decide it can be impacted by who the animal is registered to, who has paid for expenses and who might be able to provide a suitable home for the pet in the future.

It is possible to agree a plan where the pet spends time with both people on a shared basis. This can work well if children are involved because the pet can travel with them between the two homes. If a shared plan is discussed the costs of maintaining the pet and how they will be paid will also need to be agreed.

The costs of dealing with this kind of issue in court can be significant and disproportionate. Mediation offers an amicable, quick, cost-effective solution for discussing such matters.

If you would like to talk to us about how mediation can assist, you can email us - hello@familymandm.co.uk or call us on 0800 206 2258

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