Lincoln Legal deals with a whole array of legal matters and we have noticed a growing trend in certain enquiries, questions and concerns that the public has on particular topics and issues.

An interesting question that has been steadily growing is the issues of PETS and how it entangles with their existing legal matters involving family disputes and Wills and estate matters.

Who has custody of your pet when you separate with your partner?

Australian law treats pets as personal property. This means that upon a couple’s separation, who eventually keeps the pet is a matter of property settlement. If there is dispute as to who should have ownership of the pet, a court may consider an array of factors including: who is registered as the pet owner, whether one party has a long-term bond with the pet, who performed responsibilities such as took care, spent time, fed, walked, and took the pet to the vet. The accommodation of both parties may also be considered, for example, many rental properties prohibit domestic pets.

What happens to your pet upon your death?

We cannot stress how critical Estate Planning is for every single person. A significant misconception is that Estate Planning concerns only those who are wealthy. However, this understanding must be reconsidered. To read more about estate planning, see our other post on Wills and making sure your Will is valid.

The pet’s legal status of being the property of their owner means formal arrangements can be made within a person’s Will to ensure the pets will be cared for when the owner dies. Perhaps the most common way is to gift the pet, along with a lump sum of maintenance money to a trusted friend or family relative. However, a substitute carer should also be arranged for in unforeseen circumstances such as illness or death where the nominated person will be unable to take care of the pet.

Alternatively, some animal charities have “pet legacy programmes” where your pet will be placed in accommodation facilities should a legacy (usually a gift of money) be provided.

Pets are part of the family so the same care and arrangements should be made to ensure they are looked after in case of an emergency.

Disclaimer: The information above is intended to be general information only and it should not be relied upon it as legal advice. If you seek professional advice please feel free to contact the team at Lincoln Legal or make an enquiry.