Mcphee Lawyers


27 March 2015

‘What’s the matter Skippie?’ Pets and Family Law


We keep fish in our pond here. Goldfish. They are such good company – colourful, silent, sinuous and sociable.

Many of our clients keep pets. Mostly dogs and cats, some horses, guinea pigs, mice, birds and snakes. Each to their own.

Who gets the animals when you separate?

There is no separate laws relating to pets in family law in Australia. They are regarded as property. You can fight in court over who gets Lassie but not over sharing her. But there’s something about the love of pets that makes that seem rather crude. Did you know that in a 2006 Australian survey 56% of women and 41% of men reported they found their pet to be more affectionate than their partner?

Although the law isn’t changing there are certainly separating couples who are including in their separation agreements arrangements to cater for the needs of their pets. This can include sharing of time and sharing of costs.

There have been some Australian family law decisions regarding pets, but these only reinforce the concept that the pet is property to be allocated to one party or the other. No orders for maintenance can be made either.

Maybe it’s time we amended the Family Law Ac 1975 to take into account the best interests of our pets when finalising relationships. What do you think?

Please contact our office if we can assist you with your family law matter.

Tags: , , ,

Back to blog