• 2 min read

Who gets the dog when a relationship comes to an end?


We are well known for being a nation of animal lovers. Statistics show that almost 50% of the UK population have a pet. It has been reported that one in four divorces now involve a dispute over a pet, with dogs and cats recorded as the most fought over pets within family law disputes. This figure is likely to be similar in cohabiting unmarried couples.

Currently the family court take quite a black and white approach to animals and consider a pet as a chattel within family law disputes. This puts them in the category of ‘things and inanimate objects’. It can be difficult for any pet owner to accept that their animal will be seen as a ‘thing’ by the court. Any owner would no doubt argue their pet has feelings and emotions and their best interests need to be taken into account. The family court is perhaps trailing behind some other areas of law where an animal’s welfare is very important in relation to its care.

Our team at Trethowans recognise the importance of being compassionate and mindful to any family pets and how this will add a layer of emotion to any family law dispute. We are seeing more need for couples entering into ‘pet-nup’ style agreements to have a pre-emptive framework as to what would happen to the family pet in the event of a relationship breakdown.

Anyone buying a pet can enter into a ‘pet-nup’, it doesn’t necessary just apply to couples. Our solicitors are well placed to guide clients through the process of creating such an agreement.

In the event that no previous arrangements have been considered for a pet in the early stages of a relationship, our solicitors will support clients in ensuring their pet is dealt with in a sensitive way to any overall financial dispute as part of this legal conclusion.

It is important to obtain clear and supportive legal advice from the outset of any case.  This will help you make informed decisions in relation to how to deal with any pets involved after the breakdown of your relationship.

Trethowans offer a free 30-minute initial consultation for family law matters, for support please call 0800 2800 421 or get in touch here.

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