But What About the Dog?

Admit it, you’ve been wondering- “Can I get visitation rights post-separation to see my dog?” Read on to find out…

It is reported that over 50% of people view their pets as children. Some of these people have had children that have subsequently “left the nest”, others are simply choosing to have cats and dogs instead of “real babies”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

There is however a rise of enquiries out there about “custody of the dog” and “can we get an order about spending time with the dog?” is one of the questions that I seem to get asked with rather interesting frequency. So, what does happen with the dog when you and your partner separate?

I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories coming out of the USA where couples are obtaining orders for “equal custody” of the dog, with Fido being moved from “mum” to “dad” every second week and back again. In Australia however, it’s an entirely different story.

Under Australian Law, dogs are technically “property”. I know, I know, that’s your “furbaby” I’m talking about but this is the reality. In the event of a relationship breakdown there can be “shared custody” of the dog, but normally only in circumstances where the other party agrees to it. In matters which are before the court, you can seek orders about “ownership” of the dog as an item of property to be divided along with your other assets, but if this is the sole point of contention, bringing it in front of a court is not going to win you any friends with the judge. In this scenario it may be best to accept that your “furbaby” is no longer accessible and maybe look into finding a (don’t hurt me for saying it!) “replacement”.