Your pet is an important member of your family and when a marriage ends, deciding who gets to keep your “fur baby” often leads to contention.
While the intense emotional attachment between people and their pets can sometimes lead owners to think of their furry companions as their children, in British Columbia, the law classifies pets as property.
Determination of ownership
Since pets are considered property, when there is a dispute, the level of affection each party shows the pets are irrelevant, as long as they both treat the animal humanely. The only thing that matters is who owns them.
The party who purchased the pet is the owner and can decide where the animal will live. For the court to rule that you retain sole possession of the pet, you will need to establish ownership. Establishing ownership typically involves providing proof of purchase. This proof can be in the form of a receipt, bank statement, or any other document that provides details of the transaction.
If the pet was a gift, you can show ownership by presenting evidence, such as a card or messages detailing the exchange or the testimony of someone who can verify that you received the pet as a present.
Request for compensation
If you are not the legal owner of the pet, you might be able to submit a request to be compensated if you can prove that your former partner was unfairly enriched by the contributions you made to the well-being of the pet. Contributions may be monetary, including costs for pet food, vet bills, toys, medication or insurance fees. Non-monetary contributions include time spent caring for the pet.
Divorce mediation or negotiation
If both spouses jointly own a pet, the court has no real jurisdiction to determine how that ownership should be shared and will not issue custody or access orders nor make a declaration of trust with respect to the pet. The court can only order that if one party retains sole ownership, they pay the other half the pet’s value.
As a result, it is recommended that couples utilize divorce mediation or negotiation to arrive at an arrangement that works for both parties.
Surrey divorce lawyer
If you are going through a divorce and need assistance deciding who will keep your pet or how ownership will be shared, contact us at Highland Law.
We understand that divorce matters can be very stressful and strive to provide clients with honest, cost-effective, and efficient representation. Our experienced lawyers are client-focused and flexible and will seek legal solutions tailored to meet your specific needs.