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I'm keeping the dog

"I'm keeping the dog" - Pets and Family Law

Monday 9th of December 2019
By: Alisha Edwards, Associate, Coote Family Lawyers

Your reassurance, meticulous approach to case preparation and personal engagement helped me significantly with the stress and pressures.  

What happens to our pets when we separate?

For separating couples, it is often the kids and house which are the main source of conflict in a family law dispute. But what happens to our furry and feathered friends when a family is divided?

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) does not specifically provide for how a Court is to determine who keeps a pet after separation. Under the Act, pets are considered property just like the couch, car or computer.

Generally, judges are reluctant to divide furniture, chattels and other personal possessions and, just like with all aspects of a family law dispute, parties are strongly encouraged to reach agreement between them. The cost of arguing over personal property at Court or between lawyers can very quickly exceed the value of the items themselves. That said, the emotional connection to a family pet can make them very difficult to part with.

Where parties are unable to reach agreement as to the living arrangements for a pet, Family Dispute Resolution can assist them to do so. For the most part, a common-sense approach is encouraged when considering where a pet should live. Shared care arrangements may seem like a ‘fair’ solution, however, it is important to bear in mind that such arrangements will ultimately require you and your former partner to continue seeing each other on a regular basis for years to come. Some things to consider are yard size, the work and social commitments of the parties and who is best able to financially support a pet on their own.  

At Coote Family Lawyers, we can assist with all aspects of your property division (and love sharing pictures of our pets!).  For further information, please contact one of our team of top divorce lawyers in Melbourne for advice on 03 9804 0035.

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