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Splitting assets: who gets the dog?

Divorce is an emotional time. Discussions over who gets what can be stressful enough before you even get to the question of ‘Who keeps the dog?’.

Who keeps the dog?

Pets are often more than just that to their owners – your dog can be a much-loved family member. The family courts don’t see it that way, though.

Chattels’ may seem an unorthodox name for a pet, but this is how ‘your’ dog will be classified, alongside your furniture, artwork and jewellery. To decide who gets the dog, the court will consider:

  • Who purchased the dog, and whose name is it registered to?
  • Was the pet a gift, and who was the recipient?
  • What contributions has each party made to the dog, for example, vet bills, food, and pet insurance.
  • Which party can financially support the dog?
  • Who has the most suitable home for the dog?

See you in court!

Celebrity couple Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong went to court over their pet. They were granted shared care of their chocolate Labrador, Hurley, on a weekly basis.

For the rest of us, lengthy and costly court proceedings may not be proportionate.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mediation is a proactive way for a neutral and impartial third party to help you reach a negotiated solution. The mediator facilitates discussion, identifies possible solutions, and allows the parties to make informed decisions.

If the parties agree to Arbitrationthey accept that the ‘award’ of the arbitrator will be final. That award can then be made a court order if required and enforced.

Often, solicitor negotiation can help structure proposals for shared care, including visiting arrangements, collection and return times, and time to take the dog for a walk. In making those arrangements, it is important to ensure the welfare of the dog and its needs are met by each party.

…not just for Christmas

You’ll be familiar with the Dogs Trust slogan: ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’. If your life takes a turn this festive season, who gets the dog?

For more information about this article or any other aspect of Family Law and Divorce, contact your Napthens Solicitors in Preston, Fylde Coast, Blackburn, and across the North West today.