It was hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for Meghan Markle when learning that she had to leave her beloved rescue pup Bogart behind when she moved to London. She might be about to have a Fairy Tale Wedding with her very own prince but most of us couldn’t help but wince at the thought of being forced to leave an adored pet behind (and she was entering a marriage, not leaving one!).
This isn’t a big surprise; the UK is a nation of animal lovers after all! For most of us, our pets quickly become family and it’s impossible to imagine our lives without them. In fact, 95% of pet owners believe that their pet provides them with invaluable companionship. What happens, then, when a couple splits up and they both want to keep the household pet they love so dearly?
Considering that treasuring our pets is the national norm, it can be quite a shock to realise that our furry friends are treated no differently under the law than if they were merely part of the furniture. The pet’s welfare or possible preferences aren’t usually considered in legal proceedings. Instead, practical considerations like which individual is better able to pay the vet bills can prove of crucial importance.
Cem Usten, lawyer at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “In our firm’s experience with clients, the custody of the family pet can often become a very emotive issue at a time when both parties are already emotionally vulnerable. Divorce can get vicious and we often see clients using emotional attachment to gain leverage during negotiations. Shared custody, as with children, is often the preferred choice for many couples but it is always important to explore all of the options available.”
If you plan to dispute the ownership of a pet as part of divorce proceedings, it is important to know exactly what the court will take into consideration. During such a turbulent time, a pet’s companionship may be more important than ever, so clear legal advice is especially important. But it may not be the best use of resources to ask an expensive lawyer to spend his time on the issue of a pet’s custody. Instead individuals can turn to resources such as, LexSnap to access a package of clear and affordable legal advice.
Queries about pet ownership are among the most popular on LexSnap, which shows why access to clear legal advice matters, especially when it affects those we love-- even if they have four legs. For more information go to: https://www.lexsnap.com/