Increasingly, one of the hardest ‘assets’ for separated couples to come to an agreement on is the family pet. This is made particularly difficult by the Family Court having no jurisdiction to make ‘parenting orders’ for pets.
Pets are now commonly regarded as part of the family. As a result, separating partners are sometimes willing to settle for property with a substantially lower monetary value than they would otherwise be entitled to in exchange for getting custody of the pet.
Section 64B(2) of the Family Act (“the Act“) identifies the matter that a ‘parenting order’ may deal with. As the term suggests, parenting orders are restricted to dealing with issues concerning children. No provision is currently made for the Court to make parenting orders for pets.
Therefore, the custody of pets are dealt with under the property settlement provisions under Part VIII and VIIIAB of the Act. Under these provisions, any pets are considered with the rest of the couple’s assets.
Those concerned about the custody of their pet should also be aware that it may be possible to enter into an agreement regarding the custody of pets outside of the Court.
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