When the Fur Flies! - Pet Custody
For many, the family pet is considered a beloved (and often everyone’s favourite) member of the family. But, what happens when the fur flies?
Whilst there have been some legislative changes which recognise the emotional significance of pets (e.g. threatening to take or cause harm to a pet can constitute family violence), pets are still considered property under the Family Law Act.
In Australia, “pet custody” (sharing the care of pets post separation) can be the subject of an informal agreement between ex-partners. However, if parties cannot agree, the Court decides the question of ‘who gets the pet’ as part of the financial/property settlement and the following factors may be considered:
· Who paid for the pet?
· Is the pet registered? If so, to whom?
· Who has spent more time with the pet?
· Who is in possession of the pet?
Animal welfare considerations (e.g. accommodation, work and travel commitments) are not determinative. However, if a child or children have a strong attachment to the pet, the Court may determine that the pet is assigned to the primary residence of that child or children, or that the pet moves between households with them, if considered to be in their best interests.
A pet can form part of the assets within a Financial Agreement if parties decide to document their decision in the advent of a separation.
We understand, and Coco would concur, that pets and the couch are not the same thing!
Do you have a question about pet custody following separation?
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