Pets and Divorce
Pets and Divorce
Pets are treated as chattels under English law. This means that a pet has the same status as a fridge-freezer, sofa etc.
On the breakdown of a relationship, you should try to reach an agreement with your former partner about your pets. If you are not able to reach an agreement, then you may be able to ask a Mediator, who has expertise in disputes involving pets, to help you.
If mediation does not result in an agreement being reached about the pets, then it may be worth instructing a Solicitor. A formal letter from a Solicitor may prompt the other party to take negotiations more seriously and hopefully lead to a negotiated agreement about the pets.
Arbitration is a method to be considered if Mediation does not prove successful. This process can be quicker than court proceedings and arbitration decisions are binding on the parties.
Court proceedings should be considered as a last resort as the proceedings may be expensive and lengthy. In dealing with an application about pets, the court will look at factors such as who paid for the pet, to whom is the pet registered and who pays the vet bills/pet insurance. If children of the relationship are involved, the court may look at the welfare of the children when deciding how pets are to be dealt with ie. do the children have a particularly close bond with the pet and will separation from the pet cause a negative impact on the welfare of the children.
It is possible for parties to arrange for an agreement to be prepared that deals with what is to happen to their pets on the breakdown of their relationship, who is to be responsible for the pet’s ongoing care ie. the expenses of the pet such as food, vet bills/pet insurance premiums, with whom will the pet live and arrangements for the other party’s contact with the pet. An agreement of this nature will not be binding on a court but a court is likely to take such an agreement into account when making a final decision.
For further information please contact Susannah Taylor on 01270 611106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide specific legal advice. It should not be relied upon in the absence of specific advice given in relation to particular circumstances.