Divorce and family pets

Divorce has, as we all know, profound implications on the lives of spouses, children, other familiy members and, of course, family property.

There are a number of matters that have to be decided and agreed upon, such as child custody, maintenance, alimony, use of the family home and marital property division.

Until recently, these were the sole issues that were governed by law, forgetting a subject that, for many and many families, is also important: what happens to the family pets?

Law 8/2017, which approved the legal status of animals, brought a series of novelties in this matter, adapting the legal regime to this new sociological reality in which pets are no longer seen as objects along with all other marital property. From then on, in the event of a divorce, the spouses must agree which one (or both) is entrusted with the family pets, considering the interest of the spouses themselves, the children and the welfare of the animals.

The law makes no mention of “pet maintenance” payments, but we think that nothing prevents an agreement between the spouses in which one of them agrees to pay the spouse that will take care of the animal a periodical amount to face the pet’s expenses.

As for the animal’s place of “residence”, we believe that the spouses can agree that the animal is entrusted to one of the spouses and stipulate a “visitation scheme” for the other according to an agreed calendar or they can agree that the animal is entrusted to both spouses in which case they can agree on a “shared custody” arrangement.

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