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Can I keep the dog if I get divorced?

Dogs and other pets are often seen as a much loved member of the family but sadly when it comes to divorce, in the eyes of the law a pet falls into the same category as a TV or a toaster as nothing more than a person’s personal property. As such the court is likely to be more interested in who owns the dog by considering factors such as:

  • who paid for the dog (ideally backed up with receipts)
  • who is registered at the vet
  • who is listed on the microchip database, and
  • who is the provider of key supplies and food

This person is more likely to have a successful claim over the dog, even if the other party has a better emotional attachment and spent more time looking after the dog.

If it is unclear who owns the dog, a sympathetic judge may consider who is best placed to look after the dog but parties should be prepared for a fairly rough and ready decision. The court is often reluctant to deal with disputes such as pet ownership as it is more concerned with the bigger picture such as arrangements for the children and the overall financial division. It is therefore far preferable for the parties to reach an agreement themselves, perhaps with the assistance of mediation.

Read our recent article to find out more.