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Who gets the dog on divorce?

To the millions of dog owners across England and Wales who see their furry friends as family it may come as a shock to know that the court treats animals as property. In terms of the law, this means that a pet is legally no different to a car or item of furniture for example.

With this in mind, dog owners getting divorced may face particular challenges. Care and custody arrangements, division of expenses, as well as frequent friction over who the pet prefers, can all add to the stress in a divorce case.

Repeatedly it has been shown that a loving, stable home which provides security and routine for a dog is a preferred environment. Sadly, all too often, dogs are forced to enter a shelter when couples cannot agree on custody.

As dogs are creatures of habit, divorce could lead to disruption in their lives and consequently this could lead to bad behaviour developing. Where a pet has been used to sharing a home as part of a family, being pack animals this will undoubtedly confuse them. As a result accidents could happen with well trained dogs or bad behaviour could begin.

If the parties cannot agree between themselves, contact arrangements will be decided by a judge. The courts are fully aware that dogs often mean significantly more to a person than any other item of property. It is therefore more complicated than simply looking at who legally owns the dog. 

Some of the factors that may be considered are:

  • When and who legally purchased the dog
  • Whether the dog is to be considered a gift to the spouse or the child
  • Living arrangements of the parties
  • Best interests of the dog

At Benussi & Co we love our pets dearly too. If you are concerned about what will happen to your pet in the event of a divorce, please call 0121 248 4001 for a confidential conversation with one of our specialist divorce lawyers.

We offer consultations in Birmingham and London. As a team, we maintain compassion and sympathy throughout, remembering that your matter is a very personal issue, with everyone involved in the process understanding your perspective.



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