Who Should Keep the Family Dog in a Divorce?

Hello, my name is Carl. Last year, I divorced my wife. We had been married for several years but our love had finally died when I found out she was having an affair with our neighbour. I moved out and contacted an attorney. As well as organising the division of our property we also have to work out the custody arrangements for our 3 children. My wife wanted full custody but I wasn't happy about this. My attorney helped me to put a case together to present to the family court. In the end, the judge said I should have custody of the kids. I was so happy. I decided to start this blog to offer advice and help to others.

Who Should Keep the Family Dog in a Divorce?

Who Should Keep the Family Dog in a Divorce?

17 October 2022
 Categories:
, Blog


Who gets custody of the family dog when you and your partner divorce? It might be that the dog is clearly more bonded with one of the parties, which certainly clarifies things. But just as you may need assistance from a family lawyer to determine the fair and equitable division of property and assets, the best outcome for your dog may need to be negotiated. 

Best Interests 

The best case scenario for determining custody of a dog is that both parties calmly work out what's in the dog's best interests. Since one of you will be moving out of your shared residence, what are the specifics of that new home environment? Where will the dog have enough space, and is that space secure? Who has more time for the dog? Who is currently responsible for the majority of the dog's care? By asking these questions, you can generally already work out who should receive custody of the dog.

Informal Arrangements

Although one of you will be the primary caregiver for the dog, this isn't to suggest that the other party will no longer have any contact with the animal. Informal visitation can be arranged, although this will be a private arrangement. Details can be worked out between your family lawyer and your partner's lawyer during the mediation process. Although such arrangements will be informal, they shouldn't be too casual—allotted times and days should be worked out. This means that neither party is deprived of contact with their beloved pet. 

Disputed Custody

If it's impossible to amicably work out custody of the dog during mediation, the notion of a chattel becomes relevant. In legal terms, a chattel is a physical object—a possession that has a legal owner. Under Australian law, a dog has certain rights but is still a chattel. If custody of the dog is disputed, legal ownership can be proven. Who has retained physical possession of the dog? In whose name is the dog registered? Who originally paid the purchase cost of the dog? These questions can help to determine who owns the dog, and therefore, who will be granted custody of the dog in the event that this is disputed. In the best interests of your pet, it's preferable to avoid such a dispute, if possible.

Ideally, you and your partner can come to an agreement about what's best for the dog, otherwise, a compromise will need to be negotiated.

About Me
Carl's Divorce and Child Custody Blog

Hello, my name is Carl. Last year, I divorced my wife. We had been married for several years but our love had finally died when I found out she was having an affair with our neighbour. I moved out and contacted an attorney. As well as organising the division of our property we also have to work out the custody arrangements for our 3 children. My wife wanted full custody but I wasn't happy about this. My attorney helped me to put a case together to present to the family court. In the end, the judge said I should have custody of the kids. I was so happy. I decided to start this blog to offer advice and help to others.

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