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What Happens to Pets After Divorce?

Over the last few years, during the pandemic, we have seen a huge uptake in the number of families taking on pets. As a cute and loving addition to the family, pets are great companions for children and adults and will play a huge role within the home. However, when a family is divided by divorce, many are left wondering, what happens to the pets when two people divorce?

What the law says about pets and divorce

According to the law in the UK and Wales, your family pets are considered property. Therefore, they are treated much like any other piece of property during your divorce. Like a piece of furniture or other physical asset.

Who has rightful ownership over a pet?

As pets are currently treated in the same way as a physical asset, the divorce court will apply Section 25 factors, to determine the rightful owner of the pet. These are the same set of factors which apply to the family home. Other factors do however come into play. These include, who the main carer of the animal is, your financial situation, who originally purchased the pet, who pays for the pet’s medical care and general daily necessities.

Some courts will look at who is the registered owner of the pet on the animal’s microchip or at their vet practice. Agreements for contact arrangements can not be made within the courts, likely they are for children, this is something that you and your partner will have to agree to discuss/negotiate outside of court.

Ways to negotiate with your partner regarding your pet

When it comes to deciding how often your separated partner should see your shared pet, it is important to consider the animal’s needs. As well as how this may impact your relationship moving forward. Will this plan continue to work in 5-10 years time?

  • Consider the needs of your pet. If your pet needs to be walked several times of day or must access medical care often, consider where is best for your pet to be the majority of the time.

  • It is important during this time to have a discussion with your ex partner regarding the care of your pet and how this will be shared, if at all. If speaking with your ex has become difficult, mediation may be necessary in order to achieve an agreement.

If you would like further advice regarding the law around pet ownership and divorce or would like to arrange mediation talks, get in touch today.

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