Custody of Pets and Fur Children
With couples often waiting until later in life to have children, many have turned to our furry friends in lieu of having children. They are cheaper and easier maintenance then real children but nonetheless they become our fur children and a loved member of the family.
So what happens when the couple separates? Who gets custody of the fur children? Under the current legislation, animals are treated as a chattel, an asset of the relationship, to be divided.
We could turn to Hollywood, and put the animal in the middle of a room and see who they go to, letting them make the decision themselves. Putting this into practice could prove difficult though and even then, it would only allow one “parent” to have a relationship with them.
Mediation, is not bound by the same rules of the court, the agreements could be verbal and in good faith, Court Orders or anything in between. This means that the content of the agreement is able to be more lenient and can contain innumerable possibilities, including a custody arrangement for our fur children.
Pet’s can sense when there is a change in circumstances and become distressed. They can also become down and feel loss of a loved one.
Like with human children’s matters, it may be important to consider what is best for the pet. Does one party work long shift works or away for days at a time, did one party have more responsibility for the care of them during the relationship, the parent’s residences or simply did they have a favourite parent (we all know they do)?
Other issues that may need to be considered are costs. Unlike human children, a child support agency will not start garnishing the other party’s wages for child support. During mediation you may need to consider how costs will be apportioned when it comes to registration, vet bills, insurance and general expenses.
If you need help to maintain your relationship with your fur child, mediation may be able to assist. Telephone us to see how we may be able to assist you.