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After Separation... Who Keeps The Dog?

Family Law
18 May 2023
After Separation... Who Keeps The Dog?

Recently, the Full Court in Grunseth & Wighton [2022] FedCFamC1A 132 determined that the de facto wife was to retain the dog, and the de facto husband was awarded an adjustment of $800.

Roxy is a Spoodle who was purchased during the relationship. Given her age and likely limited economic value, Roxy did not appear in the list of assets which was to be divided between the parties, however each party sought an order for her possession. The evidence before the Court showed that although Roxy was purchased during the relationship, the de facto wife was the legally registered owner of Roxy and she also paid for the deposit.

The Court stated at [63] that "As much as it will pain pet lovers, animals are property and are to be treated as such. Questions of attachment are not relevant and the Court is not, in effect, to undertake a parenting case in respect to them."

Although it might be a shock to those who consider their pets as children, this means that section 79 and section 90SM of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) applies to pets in the same way it would for other property - that is, considering who made financial and non-financial contributions whereas parenting determinations are applied differently and focus on what is in the best interest of the child.

Interestingly, the Court also commented at [65], that "If the ownership is contested, there is much to be said for each party making a blind bid for the pet, with the highest offer accepted and taken into account in dividing the property."

So, is there a dollar amount you would pay to keep your pet?

Contact us today on (07) 4417 4417 to understand your entitlements during a separation or divorce.