We Got Divorced and She Took My Dog
When a relationship ends there is a lot of focus on the pain and strain of separation and divorce, as well as negotiating parenting plans, child visitation rights, and the division of property, assets, and liabilities.
Of course, all of these things are extremely important, but what about the pets? Who gets to keep the family’s beloved cat or dog?
Many people these days think of their pets as furry little children. They are just as important as any other family member and are treated as such.
Collaboration and legal rights
What happens if one partner had a pet before the relationship started? Are they within their rights to keep that pet once the relationship dissolves? And what about pets that were acquired during the course of the relationship? Who has legal rights to those pets? Do you need a “Petnup”?
For people who don’t keep pets it probably sounds rather trivial in the overall scheme of things, but for those who adore their pets and are avid cat or dog lovers, this is a big deal that needs to be resolved with the best possible outcome.
As far as the law goes, pets are not treated the exact same way as children are in a relationship or divorce. Pets are treated as “assets”, just like a boat or a car. Yes, it doesn’t sound very personal or endearing, but that’s how pets are viewed under the current laws.
A “petnup” isn’t an official document like a prenup agreement, but a provision can be made within a prenuptial agreement regarding who gets to keep any pets that were acquired during the relationship, as well as specifying ownership of a pet that one partner had going into the relationship.
Also, under the Family Law Act, there is a provision for a Binding Financial Agreement that includes just one asset. This provision can be used effectively for a petnup agreement. If you use this option, keep in mind that at the end of the relationship everything else will be divided up at that time, either by the courts or agreement between the two separating parties.
What About Pet Visitation Rights and Shared Custody?
Your petnup will only enforce legal ownership of the pet. Unlike with children, there are no legal provisions that are enforceable for visitation rights to a pet or any shared custody arrangements. These are things that will have to be unofficially worked out between the two parties.
For the sake of the pets, the children and the adults, hopefully, an amicable arrangement can be agreed upon and adhered to, including financial arrangements for the upkeep and health of the pet.
We Got Divorced! Did You Need a Prenup Agreement or Even a “Petnup”?
Located in sunny Brisbane, James Noble Law is your local family law team of experts. We fully understand the processes involved in the dissolution of a serious relationship and we can also help you put in place provisions for your beloved pets. Make an appointment today to discuss your options.