Pets play an important part in people's lives. For many, a beloved pet becomes a part of the family. However, this means that some difficult decisions may need to be made if the family breaks apart and you decide to divorce your partner. While you may view your pet as a member of the family, under Australian law, they are viewed as property. Below is a guide to 3 things a court will consider when deciding which party will be awarded a family pet.
Your living situation
When a judge is making their decision in regards to your pet, they will consider you and your spouse's living situation. For example, if as is common, one of you have moved out of the family home, the judge will ask for evidence that pets are permitted in the new accommodation. If you are renting a space, you may not be able to accommodate a pet, in which case, the judge will typically rule that the other party should be awarded the animal.
Who has ownership
If you and your ex-partner both want to be awarded the pet, the judge will need to determine who has ownership. There are several ways this may be achieved. If you have a pet such as a dog, which needs to have a registered owner, the judge will check the relevant documents and will award the pet to the legal owner. However, if your pet isn't the type of animal which needs to be legally registered, the judge may take other factors into consideration when deciding who has ownership. For example, they may assess who purchased the animal, who pays for the animals food and vet care and who spends the majority of the time looking after the pet.
The value of your pet
While this might seem strange, if you own a pet which is a rare breed, it may be argued in court that the animal has a cash value. This cash value may be taken into account when the judge is dividing your assets. If the judge does not award the pet to you, your lawyer may also be able to lodge a claim for a proportion of the value of your pet, which is typically half of the fee used t purchase the animal. While this will not allow you to keep access to your pet, the money may help you to move on and buy a new animal.
If you would like to find out more about dealing with pets during a divorce case, you should contact a family law firm today.