Family law is quite complex.  This law division includes a huge list of categories such as separation and divorce, child support and maintenance, children’s matters, family violence, parenting disputes, property settlement, binding financial agreements and more.  However, when separation does occur, what happens to the family pets?

Household Pets are Deemed as Property

The Family Law Act defines animals as property.  This means that in most cases, animals will be treated in the same way as household items and various family pets can be distributed between the parties via either Court Order or by agreement.

Who Gets (the ownership of the Family) Pets After Divorce?

Unfortunately, once a decision has been made regarding who keeps the pets, the pet become the sole property of that one individual. There is no such thing as visitation rights or time-spent arrangements with pets.  These arrangements can be quite difficult to accept if you are very attached to your pet, and the other party gets to keep it.

When determining who will keep the pet, some important considerations include:

  • proof of ownership/registration;

  • which party is mostly responsible for the pet’s care;

  • which party has custody of the children;

  • which party is the primary carer for the children; and

  • which party has appropriate living arrangements for keeping the pet.

Pet-Nups Can Solve These Problems Easier

Pet-Nup are a system that is similar to a prenuptial agreement – but for pets.  This system is accepted in Victorian courts because it acts as concrete proof of pet ownership or rather a contractual agreement with regards to responsibilities of the pet. Pet-Nup documents have been created in partnership with family law experts.

This is basically an agreement between couples about the fate of pet care upon separation.  In Pet-nup documents, both parties agree on an owner for the pet.  The agreement also include a list of basic requirements, such as suitable environments, diet, affections and anything else that the parties reasonably wish to include.

Specific agreement terms on the pets can be arranged.  Terms can include all of the following and more;

  • Financial assistance or shared financial responsibility that both partners agree

  • Expenses associated with pet care

  • Expenses surrounding vet bills

  • Visitation rights

  • Fines for law breaches

  • Microchipping

  • Holidays

Although the Family Law Act does not include any specific clauses or rulings in respect of pets, a pet-nup agreement is drafted similarly to that of a property agreement.

Pet-Nups are a terrific way to ensure that pets are taken care of after separation and to ensure that both partners get the best protection.

If you’re looking for divorce law specialists, speak to our experienced staff today.