Dog Gone Divorce
In Victoria, Nanaimo, and Mill Bay, the emotional ties between families and their beloved pets, often referred to as "fur babies," have become a significant consideration in family law disputes. Especially for couples without children, these pets often hold a place in their hearts akin to that of a child. (And yes, while dogs often take center stage in these discussions, we acknowledge our feline friends too!)
Under the Family Law Act of British Columbia, while there are clear provisions for the welfare of children, pets are notably absent. The courts prioritize the "best interest of the children," but when it comes to pets, they are legally classified as property. This can be a tough pill to swallow for many pet owners who view their pets as family members.
In pet custody battles, the primary consideration is ownership. If you brought the pet into the relationship, it might be deemed "excluded property" under the Family Law Act. This means if Fido was your companion before the relationship began, your partner might not have a legal claim. While this perspective under the Family Law Act (effective since 2013) hasn't been widely tested, it presents an intriguing argument for pet custody.
If the pet was acquired during the relationship, the waters get murkier. One could argue that the pet was a gift, implying sole ownership. However, it's also possible for the courts to determine joint ownership. In such cases, while one party might get custody of the pet, the other could receive financial compensation based on the pet's market value. But let's be honest, while we cherish our rescue pets, their market value might not be monumental. (And yes, we wholeheartedly support adopting and rescuing pets!)
At Infinity Law, serving Victoria, Nanaimo, and Mill Bay, we believe that like all legal matters, pet custody issues are best resolved through amicable negotiation. Many couples have found success in shared pet arrangements post-separation. It's a win-win for both the pets and their owners. By steering clear of court battles, you not only save money but also ensure the well-being of your cherished pets.