When a relationship or marriage breaks down and you jointly owned a pet, it can be additional stress on you to think about who gets custody of the pet. So many of us consider our pets to be part of the family and losing them would be quite as emotional as losing a partner. Some people need to take legal advice on who gets custody of a pet when their relationship is about to break. This is where JMR Solicitors can help.
It is sad to read on Blue Cross’s website, that 10 per cent of people said they had lost a pet during a breakup with a partner, with more than 5 per cent saying they had had to work out visiting hours with an ex.
So, what are the legal considerations regarding pet ownership and who exactly gets custody of the pet when your relationship breaks down?
How pet ownership is legally decided
As a pet owner, you may not agree but in the UK, pets are considered as property from a legal perspective. A mutual decision on the living arrangements of the pet should be made – but if this is not possible then custody of your pet will be based on proof of ownership.
The court will ask the legal owner to keep the pet in such circumstances and are not obliged to grant the non-legal owner access to the pet.
What does the court take into consideration when deciding the legal owner of the pet?
The court may take the following aspects into consideration:
- The court will consider who bought the pet (document proof of buying the pet)
- They will ask who the key provider is – food, maintenance, vet bills and such
- They will look at whose name is registered on the pet’s microchip and insurance
- Finally, they will look to see who is registered with the vet
Pet custody in divorce and separation
We recommend that if possible, find a medium ground and solve the problem of custody of the pet outside of court to save on costs. It is always better to be civilised and reach a mutual agreement of the pet’s welfare together.
The best decision will depend on what pet you have. For instance, if you have a dog and are considering sharing custody, you should consider what schedule will work best for your pet. They should have a main carer who has both the time and money to be able to care for them on their own. It differs for cats because they become attached to the home they are in and the people around them – so remaining in the same house if possible, is better.
Who gets custody if there is more than one pet?
If you have more than one pet, you will need to think about their relationship with one another – for instance, are they attached to each other, or do they currently tolerate each other? If they are attached, it would be unfair to separate them – so consider this when you are deciding of custody.
If the pets are not attached, and you and your partner are agreeable, then you can split them, and each keep the pet you are most fond of.
What you need to update if you get custody of your pet:
- You should update your pet’s tag/ID tag to include your full name and new address. It is also recommended that you include your number, though this isn’t a legal requirement.
- Remember to update your pet’s microchip details with your new address – this is now compulsory for all dog owners
For Legal Advice on Custody of Pets contact JMR Solicitors
If you are unable to come to a mutual agreement on the custody of your pets when the relationship or marriage breaks down, you can consider taking legal advice.
Contact JMR Solicitors on 0161 491 3933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on custody of pets.