Or a cat or a hamster or even a komodo dragon- should you be fortunate enough to find one in your kitchen one morning. Fido or Fifi are our fur children we love them, feed them, take them to the doctor (I don’t like to say V E T in front of D O G) tell them our troubles and care for them like a child. They have human names, Mr Smooth has a cat called Dave (vicious little darling – the cat not Mr Smooth).
In many ways a pet takes more attention and is as a great a responsibility as a child. Fluffy or Fido or even Puff the komodo dragon are wholly dependent on us their human family for their very survival. Martha the Labrador is only 5kg overweight, she is telling me right now that she is close to starvation and a little biscuit could stave off the inevitable.
So what happens when Mr & Mrs Fido Parent go their separate ways? It goes without saying, that mediation, collaborative law or a simple round the kitchen table discussion are available in sorting out who is going to look after Jonny The Kid on New Years Eve, what to do with the house, the villa in Barbados and that little nest egg in the Cayman Islands. Sometimes, not necessarily, because either party is behaving badly, people need to look to the courts and arbitration to help them sort out their stuff.
What to do with The Kid can be dealt with under the Children Act 1989. Assuming Mr & Mrs Fido Parent were married then the house, the villa, the bank accounts can dealt with under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. There are guidelines in both pieces of legislation.
This leaves us with Fido, Fluffy and Puff. If all discussions fail, what then? The court will deal with them as chattels, things . Yes that’s right chattels as if they were the same as sofas, tables or TV’s. If you can’t agree who is to have the beloved pet on each alternate weekend and you look to the court, then The Married Woman’s Property Act 1882 is the statute you need. The judge will usually order the sale of all chattels but will no doubt make an exception for the fur family. What the judge won’t do is deal with the contact arrangements for your pets. He or she will simply give Fido to one, Puff to the other and Fluffy may have to fend for herself. Someone here has suggested that in the case of the family chicken it could all be sorted out over a BBQ. I think they mean that a friendly drink and bite to eat may help you come to an agreement.