Articles by Marr Family Lawyers Wollongong to assist you in obtaining useful information and support services in respect to your family law matter.

Separation and Family Pets

Family Law
Pets and Family Law
Relationship breakdown

The issues arising from the breakdown of a marriage or de-facto relationship are nuanced and complex, and the courts recognise that no two family law situations are ever the same. As such, the area of the law concerning family pets and their care following the collapse of a relationship is murky and will vary on an individual case-by-case basis.

Generally, family pets are considered as part of a property settlement when separation occurs, and the Court will turn to consider financially and legally who owns the pets in question. The Family Law Act 1975 has not yet distinguished between family pets and other assets considered as property. As such, when determining who should retain the animal, the court will consider factors such as who purchased the pet, who the registered owner is, who cared for and fed the pet, and who has the means to continue paying for it in the future. In this way, the family pet is treated much the same as other chattels such as expensive artworks or household contents.

However, it is generally in the best interests of all parties involved to resolve the issues surrounding family pets, without the need for going to Court. Requiring the Court to make a determination about ownership of the animal following separation will likely frustrate the judicial officer, and it is likely to be costly and time consuming.

If you are concerned about what may happen to your family pet following the breakdown of your relationship, you can take some proactive measures to prove ownership. This can include ensuring the pet is registered in your name and maintaining receipts or other documentation to prove payment of vet bills, pet food and other related expenditure.

For specific advice concerning your situation, contact us today for an obligation free initial consultation with one of our Accredited Specialists in Family Law.