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What should happen to the family pet upon divorce?

29 June 2021

Dawn Hughes

Owner with pet dog

What should happen to the family pet upon divorce?

Within divorce proceedings it is becoming more and more frequent for spouses to be arguing about who has the dog. This can lead to a lot of animosity between the parties.

Under English law, pets are considered as chattels like cars and contents and note in the same way as children. When deciding who the dog will live with the Courts may consider the same Section 25 factors as they would when dealing with the family home. However other factors will need to be taken into account like who is the main carer of the dog, who pays for the food and vet bills and whether there is a pre-nup agreement in place in relation. They will also consider the party’s financial provisions.

If the dog is used to serve a purpose like for someone who is blind or dealing with mental health issues, then this will put more weight on where the dog shall live.

The Court take into account the age and health of the parties especially if that,  requires them to have the dog.

It is therefore advisable to consider a pet-nup as this will then help save costs should you separate and divorce proceedings become necessary.

If no pet-nup is in place the parties should consider mediation as this may be a way forward in resolving matters without lengthy and costly Court proceedings.

If mediation is not successful, then an application to Court will become necessary and the dog will be dealt with as part of the overall financial settlement on divorce. However, the Court will not considering contact arrangements between the dog and the parties and this will have to be done between negation and outside of the Court.


Did you know? - You can also put your family pet in your will, by doing this you can protect your pet upon death. This will keep your pet in a safe and loving environment of your choosing! This can include nominating friends or family to care for your pet when you pass away.

For more information on protecting your pet in your will, click here!


If you require any further information then please do not hesitate to contact our Family Team on 01302 341414