Pets and Family Law

Hello, my name is Anna Troitschanski and I am a lawyer at Feldstein Family Law Group. Today, I will be discussing how pets are addressed in a family law context.

When two people separate, several issues must be resolved, such as the amount and duration of support payments, child care schedules, and property division. In addition, many families have pets and they want to determine who will care for their pets, with whom their pets will reside, and who will pay for veterinary bills and other pet-related expenses.

Many individuals consider their pets to be members of the family for whom they care a great deal. For this reason, the question sometimes arises as to how issues regarding family pets will be dealt with when a couple separates. Are pets considered property and thus divided like any other asset owned by the separating couple? Or are pets considered akin to children, with custody and access arrangements to be made for them?

The case law in this area explains that Family Courts will not address the issue of pets and, perhaps, the Courts are simply not interested in spending resources to do so when there are other, potentially more pressing, issues to resolve instead.

The Family Court system, therefore, will not entertain arguments regarding custody or access arrangements for pets, nor will the Courts entertain requests for the payment of expenses associated with a pet’s care, even though these can be quite significant.

In addition, the courts will not make orders for the sale of a pet so that the parties can share in the division of the sale proceeds as is often done with other assets owned by separating couples.

In short, this means that if you and your partner are separating and you have a pet or pets which are very important to you, this issue will have to be resolved outside of the court system.

However, you still have the option of resolving pet related issues with the assistance of legal counsel. In other words, you can retain a lawyer to help you negotiate any issues regarding your pets, including resolving these issues via mediation.

To learn more about how you can resolve your family law issues outside of the court system, please visit our website at www.separation.ca. If you would like legal advice about your own family law matter, please contact us at 905-581-7222 for a consultation.

Thank you for watching.