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Family Law

What happens to our dog if we divorce?


What happens to?
The most commonly asked questions from couples separating or divorcing

Monday, October 4, 2021

A rarely talked about aspect of going through a divorce is – “Who gets the dog if we divorce”?

As it stands in law, pets such as dogs and cats are considered property just like cars, handbags and furniture.

This means that if there is a dispute over a pet the Courts will not in the first instance consider the pets welfare in the same way as they would for any children.

How do the Courts approach a dispute?

The Courts ideally will want to see physical proof of who purchased the pet or who paid for the pet’s insurance, in order to determine the issue of ownership.

If the above evidence cannot be provided to the Court, it is then likely to consider what would be in the best interests of the pet.

Both spouses would then need to present their case for caring for the pet and outline why their attachment to the pet is more significant than their spouse.

Additionally, it will be persuasive to the Court if one party can demonstrate that their lifestyle post marriage will be of a better standard than their spouse.

The Courts after considering the above arguments will then make a decision in respect of the pet’s future.

How to avoid a dispute?

In order to avoid any potential future disagreements relating to the ownership of a dog or any other family pet couples can put a pre (or post) nuptial agreements in place.

This document if put in place would establish what would happen to any family pets if a couple’s marriage was to break down in the future i.e who should care for the pet long term.

Importance of Making a Will

As pets are considered property they can therefore be left to other people in your will.

It may also be beneficial to make a will to give you the reassurance and peace of mind that if anything should happen to you then your pet would pass to a specific person of your choice and not your spouse.


If you would like further advice on this topic or any other family matters then please do not hesitate to contact our specialist and friendly Family Law team on 0191 2328451 or if you prefer, via email

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