Who Gets Custody of the Dog in a Divorce: Everything You Need to Know
Some families have children to consider during their divorce, whilst others have their furry children. Separating can be a hugely upsetting, emotive, and difficult time. Having easy access to information regarding joint owners of pets can take away a little of that stress. Here is information to help clear up who does get custody of the dog and to provide everything you need to know about who pets in a divorce.
Pets are family:
When it comes down to the division of family assets during a divorce, people often only think about property, pension and money. But, what about pets that spouses own together. Does one person get to keep them, or is there a requirement to split time, like with child arrangements?
Since the start of the Covid pandemic, a crazy total of 3.2 million UK households acquired a pet as reported by the BBC. That said, divorce solicitor enquires also increased during the pandemic by 95%, meaning it’s more likely that separating spouses are concerned about who will keep their family pet. So, let’s take a closer look and discover everything you need to know about who gets custody of the dog or other pet in a divorce.
What Are Pets Considered as During a Divorce?
No one wants to go around calling pets objects, because both you and I know that pets are obviously and always will be considered as our furry children. But, in the eyes of the law, at present, pets are considered as an item of personal property. With the rise in dog theft, this law is a topic of hot discussion at present.
How is Pet Custody Decided by The Courts?
Like any type of dispute that happens between couples that are divorcing, the courts will always expect those problems to be resolved privately between the involved parties. Then, court litigation, most usually through alternative dispute resolution or better known as methods of ADR, will be sought if necessary.
Most people are not going to want to give up their pets. We love our pets as family members, so it’s important to try and come to an agreement that both parties are satisfied with. For some this is joint custody where you have to make a weekly schedule. For others the right person to take ownership is obvious. Think of the best place for the pet in this decision even if this is hard. Who has the most time for your dog? Who can afford to care for the pet? Where will they be happiest?
If sadly you are unable to come to an agreement between yourselves, this is then where you would need to take matters to court for a judge to determine the end result. The court will take into consideration the following regarding pets, who:
- purchased the animal?
- primarily cared for it during the marriage?
- paid the vet bills during the marriage?
- is the pet registered/microchipped to?
If a pet was gifted and it can be proven, then the courts are likely to award that person with custody.
What Type of Pet Custody Could the Courts Choose?
If you and your separating spouse are disagreeing about who will take responsibility over your pet, then the courts will be required to establish who they determine is entitled to custody of the pet. There are many different things that can be decided, including:
- One person having full custody.
- Transferring ownership over to another person.
- Sharing custody of the pet, including bills, such as vet, food, insurance, etc.
What Can You Do to Protect Rights Over Pets in The Event of Divorce?
In a similar sense to getting a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial, it is possible to obtain a pet-nup. Did you know, one in four divorces disputes are over pets according to the Law Society? They have previously recommended married couples who purchase pets together write one of these.
What a pet-nup does is sets out who will have care and custody of the dog. This is both in the event of a divorce and separation for unmarried couples. In addition, it’ll discuss who is responsible for the everyday care of the pet. This will include; who pays the pet bills, such as vet, food, and insurance, as well as other important matters concerning the pet.
Divorce & Pets Can Cause Disputes
What we can conclude from this article is that pets are often a topic of dispute during divorce. This means it’s advisable when purchasing a pet to ensure an agreement, such as a pet-nup, is in place in the event of a relationship breakdown. For those divorcing without a pet-nup in place, the person with ownership and who contributed most towards care and maintenance is likely to be awarded custody. But, if you are interested in sharing custody, this is possible to acquire.
This is information that we hope you do not need but is really helpful to know. Information can reduce stress at an already difficult time and help move towards the future. Did your pets come into conversation during your divorce? Let us know in the comment box below how you resolved matters.