Pets on divorce

To animal lovers their pet is very much a member of the family so it comes as a surprise to many that to the courts they are regarded as a possession in much the same way as a television set or a fridge. So what it the legal position with regards to pets on divorce.

Ideally on a separation or divorce parties will be able to agree who should keep the pet. It is possible, by agreement, that the other party will be able to see him. Some people even agree “maintenance payments” for the pet. This could cover vets bill and a contribution towards food.

However, if there is no agreement the law is clear – the pet is a chattel and will belong to the person who bought it. The court would look at who bought him, cared for him and, paid the vets bill and in whose name he is registered. The court will not order payments towards the upkeep of a pet nor will they order access or contact to the non-owning party.

Enquiries about what should happen to the family pet are on the increase and there has been a rise in the use of so-called “pet-nups”. These are agreements that cover what should happen to pets in the event of a separation and can include both parties being able to spend time with him and contribute to the upkeep. It can form part of a pre-nuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement or can be free-standing to deal just with pets.

If you need advice about an agreement at the start of a relationship or as one is coming to an end contact our specialist family lawyers on 01623 624505

Bryan & Armstrong Solicitors have an experienced family law department that are here to advise you on any aspect of family law. Please call us on 01623 624505 or email us on