We are a nation of animal lovers. According to the PDSA 50% of UK adults own a pet and 26% have a dog. But what happens to the family dog when a relationship breaks down and a couple separates or divorces? Our pets are often considered cherished members of the family and with emotions running high, some couples end up in long and expensive disputes over who gets to keep them.
Under UK law pets are considered property and are classed in the same category as items of furniture. So, despite considering the pet dog to be a cherished member of the family the court looks at them the same way as a sofa, piece of jewellery, or artwork.
There are several ways this could be resolved:
The court are likely to take into account the following factors:
A couple could enter into a written agreement, referred to as a pet-nup. This agreement records who owns the pet, who is responsible for care arrangements and expenses, and who will keep them if there is a separation.
Like pre-nups the law does not recognise pet-nups as being legally binding, but like pre-nups the court is likely to take such an agreement into account.
This article is written as a general guide and believed correct at the date of publication. If you need further or more specific information relating to your situation, please get in touch with us.