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How Divorce Courts in Canada View Family Pets


“I’ve never walked out from a court session with him disappointed…

Barry really saved my life and my son in that situation”

Divorce Courts in Canada Typically See Family Pets as Property rather than a Subject Involving Custodial Orders

Marriage involves a lot of tangible and intangible things and when it fails it’s usually a tedious process to take possession of the “things.” While taking possession of houses, jewelry, and other property is one side of the coin, there is another side, which is dealing with family pets. A court usually perceives a family pet as  property, which has to be divided between the couple. The court usually decides this considering various factors that help them determine who is eligible to have the pet.  

We know on some level this feels preposterous. So, how do we prevent a court from getting to make the decision of who gets to take the pet home?

Answer: Separation Agreements

Just like all other property in a marriage, pets are included. A signed written contract can very well talk of clauses specific to pets like:

  • Who is going to be the decision-maker in regard to the factors that affect your pet?
  • Who gets to take the pet(s) home in case of a separation?
  • Is the other spouse (one who cannot take the pets) entitled to any visitation rights?
  • Who will bear the expenses of maintaining the pets?
  • Who is going to be the veterinarian for the pets?
  • What kind of treatments can and cannot be administered on them?

More often than not, smart couples that have a Separation Agreement may, however, not see a point in including a clause for their pets. If that is the case, Canadian courts will sometimes choose to include this on the general content clause.

Let’s say for example, you both as a couple come up with a Separation Agreement clearly talking of your pets, the chances are high that you may be overlooking some factors like:

  • What do the kids want?  After all it may be a great idea to have their opinion in mind and have the primary care-taker of the kids to take the pets too.
  • Who has all the other amenities to take care of the pets? One of you maybe in a better position, better job (not so demanding job) and space to have the pets comfortably.
  • Who can take care of the pet’s needs the best financially. In the scheme of things, the expenses involved in taking care of your kids may not even seem like a big deal unless one faces whopping veterinary bills.

Though all these factors might have you all in a fix as to which one will work best for you, these factors can be real eye-openers. You can figure out the best way to have your pets around without any hassles in future.

Did You Know

Most abusers’ behaviour stems from feelings of privilege and entitlement and learned attitudes.

These can be extremely challenging to change. They must be deeply committed to making lasting changes to their behaviour. 

Published On:August 6, 2017