September 22, 2020 Category News, Our Latest Insight
In the 21st century, it is becoming commonplace for many people to forego having children. Whatever the reason, be it the economy, station in life, or personal preference, it is becoming far more the norm to see individuals or couples opting instead to adopt pets or “fur babies.” In the case of spouses, what happens to Fido upon relationship breakdown? Who gets custody?
Under British Columbia’s Family Law Act, you may be a “spouse” if you are either married to another person or have lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years (the latter being what was once referred to as “common law”). If your relationship qualifies you as a spouse and your relationship has broken down, absent some agreement to the contrary, the Family Law Act will determine which spouse Fido ends up with.
Unbeknownst to many, however, a person cannot have “custody” of their pets in the same way as they have custody or guardianship of their children. The law is very clear that pets are simply personal property and are therefore subject to property law. While pets are living breathing animals capable of a wide range of emotions, the ownership of your pets upon marriage breakdown is decided under the “Property” provisions of the Family Law Act. This also means that the law does not provide “fur-parents” with a means to get access or parenting time with or financial support for their fur babies.
If you need help determining your rights to family property, including your fur babies, upon the breakdown of your relationship, contact one of our family law lawyers to learn more.