Director David Allison appeared live on BBC Radio Northumberland yesterday discussing how pets are dealt with on a divorce. For many couples pets are an integral part of family life. But when relationships break down, it is not uncommon for arguments to arise about who gets to keep the family pet. So how do these disputes get resolved and what are the rules?
The law in England & Wales is clear. A pet will be treated as an item of personal property such as a piece of furniture, artwork or jewellery. Where disputes arise as to who gets to keep the pet, it can simply come down to whose money was used to purchase the pet and who has financially maintained the pet. This will always seem unfair if the other party has spent more time looking after the pet or is better placed to care for the pet going forward. But there is very little, if any, room for manoeuvre in unless the pet was subsequently given as a gift.
For a detailed analysis of the approach of English law to the treatment of pets on divorce, read our blog which examines the law, shared care arrangements, a possible welfare-based approach to pet ownership and what to do when you reach stalemate.