Try telling a devoted pet parent that their four-legged friend isn’t family and chances are you’ll get an earful. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, you’d be right. In British Columbia, according to the Divorce Act and Family Law Act, pets are considered matrimonial property.
So how do you divide property when it’s a living and breathing being? Depending on your circumstances, you might have a few options.
Aiming For An Amicable Alternative
When it comes to property, it often makes sense to just divide and go your separate ways. Split the books, the cookware, the furniture, and call it a day. Naturally, when it comes to pets, it’s not as straightforward. Chances are you’ve formed a deep emotional connection to your furry companion and the thought of letting them just leave doesn’t sit very well.
For separating couples who are willing to work together, a joint custody arrangement could be the best option. Both parties come together to work out a schedule that benefits them and the animal. That way everyone gets time together and no one is left out.
Ironing Out The Details
A satisfactory pet custody scenario requires ongoing maintenance or at least a long-term plan. Part of this plan should include discussions about who pays for what, especially in the case of big vet bills or other unforeseen expenses.
Couples should also discuss matters such as care, training, or visitation, if applicable. If one partner works long hours, should they be solely responsible for dog-walker costs? If the other partner insists on pricey dog food, will the cost be divided evenly? These are all topics to address before moving forward.
Can’t Come To An Agreement? Time To Get Help.
Unfortunately, when it comes to separation and divorce, amicable solutions aren’t always feasible. Perhaps you and your former partner don’t see eye to eye on pet training or maybe there are concerns about standards of care. If a mutually agreed upon solution doesn’t appear to be in the cards, it could be time to call for help.
An experienced family lawyer can help you come up with a practical, workable option that keeps your pet’s best interests in mind. They will likely endeavor to reach an agreement through mediation or another alternative form of dispute resolution. If, however, an agreement still cannot be reached, it may become necessary to bring the matter to court.
However you decide to navigate pet parenting after separation or divorce, know that there are several options available to you. It’s just a matter of finding the solution that best suits your family’s needs.