Most divorces or separations are complicated, even if the couple split on good terms. Choosing who children get to live with, who gets what property and if either partner has to pay child support can be difficult. However, one of the hardest things for couples who don’t have children is often deciding what happens to their pets.
Luckily, there are precedents that can help you decide which partner gets to keep the pet. However, these decisions aren’t always easy to make. If you and your former partner both want to keep the dog, you may need to employ the services of an experienced family lawyer who can help you settle the dispute in the courts.
Pets Are Seen As Property
As much as you love your pets and probably think of them like children, Australian law unfortunately doesn’t see things the same way. Under Australia law, pet’s are seen as property in the family courts, which means that they will be included in any property settlement disputes.
This also means that, unlike for children and dependants, separated couples won’t be awarded ‘share care’ of their pets. If you go through the courts, one partner will be awarded full custody. The only way to have some sort of share care arrangement would be to sort it out informally and amicably. However, if you decide to do this, you should consider whether the arrangement is in the pet’s best interest.
Pets Can Be Included In Prenups
If you’ve set up a prenup before you got married, you may have decided to include your pet in it. In this case, the pet will go to the partner who it was listed under in the prenup. This is probably the best case scenario, as it reduces any conflict if couples do decide to separate in the future.
How Can I Make Sure My Pet Stays With Me?
If you and your former partner can’t decide who gets to keep the pets, you might have to take the matter to the family courts. This can be expensive, and you lost a lot of control of what the outcome will be. You can increase the chances of your pet staying with you by:
- Making sure it’s registered in your name.
- Making sure that you pay for things like vet bills and insurance.
- Try and take custody of your pets post-separation.
If you and your ex are having trouble deciding who gets to keep the pets, you should consider speaking to a family lawyer. They may be able to talk you through the likely outcomes if you were to take the case to court, helping you decide whether it’s really worth it.