Divorce is never easy. There can be lot of fighting and arguing. All you want to do is to protect your furry baby. Today, I will try and teach you how to keep your pet in a divorce.

We all can have a strong and personal emotional attachment with our pets. In the eyes of divorcing parents, their pet is another child in their family. However, in Australian law, pets are seen as personal property, similar to personal assets such as cars or computers.

For many pet parents, it is often misunderstood that the court can decide living or custody arrangements for their pets. The fact is that Family Law Courts have limited power to deal with pets. Australia’s family law does not regulate what happens to pets when there is a divorce. This also means laws that apply to child custody do not apply to you pets.

Read on to find out options to solve custody issues over your pet in your divorce.

Option 1: Reaching an agreement in your divorce

It is always better to communicate. Reach out to the other side. This would also be better for your wallet and take less time. Pet owners are encouraged to reach an agreement about where the pets live when going through a divorce.

After all, you are the people who know your pet best. You would know how much each family member is attached to the pet.

Option 2: Considering mediation

More often than not, communication breaks down in a divorce. This is when things start getting messy.

If you believe communication is no longer possible, consider hiring a mediator to help you talk and come to an agreement.

Mediation is a way for both pet parents to reach an agreement that would satisfy the both of you. Attending mediation may allow both of you to decide the following:-

  • who the pet is to live with;
  • how much time the pet will spend with respective parents;
  • who pays for the expenses of the pet and the like; and
  • other matters you wish to discuss and decide on.

If a settlement is reached, the agreement will demonstrate both parents’ wishes. You should know that this agreement will not be legally enforceable.

Option 3: Seeking legal procedures

After trying out the above options and none of them worked, you should consider seeking legal means.

The court can provide a binding financial agreement or a property order, which are legally enforceable.

If you include your pet in a divorce property settlement, it will be treated as an asset and the court can make any order it sees fit.

Some pets are a bit different. If your pet generates income like a pedigree show dog or a racehorse, then they are seen as a significant asset. The court will need to determine the “market value” of your pet. You will need to offer evidence to assist the court (such as a sworn valuation).

You should know that the court will only determine who will get to keep the pet and not the daily arrangements for the pet.

The court will often consider the following:

  • Which parent paid for or adopted the pet?
  • Who has the pet resided with prior to, during and following separation?
  • Which parent has a suitable place for the pet to live?
  • Which parent was the main caregiver? – evidence to show care for the pet, the financial responsibility of pet’s expenses
  • Who paid for the pet and in whose name is the pet registered in? (not key consideration if this same parent is not the main caregiver)

You should know that even if parent A paid for and has the pet’s name registered under his/her name. The court may still find that parent B to be the owner of the pet if parent B has evidence demonstrating his/her care of the pet since the pet entered their lives. Parent A will likely be ordered by the court to do all things necessary to transfer the pet to parent B.


So, who gets to keep the furry baby? It all depends on whether you are able to talk it through and arrive at the best outcome for both you and your fur baby. Never forget to keep both your pet and family’s best interests at heart.

There is no such thing as an easy divorce, but it can be made easier with the right lawyer on your side. Ascent lawyers are committed to providing personalised, attentive representation that achieves the best outcome for you. We are also animal lovers. So, we will always keep your pet’s interest in mind.


Author's Bio: 

I have lived in three different continents. Throughout my travels, I have accumulated knowledge and experience in terms of Asian and African culture and history. While in Australia, I have acquired an understanding of the law.

Please stay tuned for my articles about culture and history of Asia and Africa, as well as important legal knowledge in Australia.