Pet Custody: Who gets to keep man’s best friend?

Pet Custody: Who gets to keep man’s best friend? - Resolve Conflict Family Lawyers

Separating is hard to do; agreeing on who gets what property can make things complicated, however deciding and agreeing on who gets to keep the family pet can often be the toughest decision separating spouses need to make.

Pets and the Family Law Act

The family pet is often seen by the family as another member of the family, the law, however, sees pets as personal property in the same manner as other personal assets such as furniture.

Deciding on Pet Custody

Deciding who gets custody of the family pet can be decided in a verbal agreement between two former spouses, however if an agreement is unable to be reached, it is highly advised that the custody dispute be dealt with in mediation rather than litigation.


It is best to initially attempt to negotiate the living arrangements of the family pet between the separating parties. If you are unable to negotiate directly between yourselves, you are able to include the arrangements for your pet in a mediation. Through mediation the decisions of who the pet is to live with, the time the pet will spend with the other party (if any), who pays for the pets expenses, can be decided.

Application for Consent Order

If negotiation is unsuccessful, or if you wish to seek a legally enforceable agreement, you are able to make an Application for Consent Order or financially binding agreement. This will mean your pet is included as property to be divided between each separating party.

It is important to check your eligibility before applying for a consent order. Married couples must apply within one year of the divorce being finalised and de facto couples must apply within two years of the breakdown of their relationship.

Related Article: Are You Running Out Of Time? Understanding Time Limits In Family Court Matters

Application for Property Orders

If all other options have been exhausted and you are still unable to reach an agreement, you are able to make an application for property orders which include your pet.

Note: This is general information advice only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters, please contact us on 03 9620 0088 or email

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