If you haven’t been following the ABC comedy series Fisk then you are missing out on some brilliant comedy by Kitty Flanagan.
We are having a lot of fun seeing things that we have seen in real life being dramatised with a comical perspective.
Last Wednesday’s episode saw a cross-over. Probate law meets Family Law – with Fisk and her ex-husband having a disagreement about Artie, their previously shared dog.
What happens to pets when a relationship breakdown occurs?
It seems that every once in a while, there is a reported decision concerning a pet and someone seeking orders about the “care, welfare, and development” of a much-loved fluffy friend.
Put simply, pets are considered to be property and orders can only be made about:
- the alteration of interests in property – how property is divided between spouses; or
- who can be declared the owner of certain property.
Courts are limited in terms of the types of orders that they can make about pets. “Parenting Orders” can’t be made about a pet. Generally, if you want to look at “shared custody” of a pet, that if something that you will have to work out with your spouse. We don’t have special provisions in the Family Law Act about pets.
However, some jurisdictions do. In particular, the State of California has recently amended their laws to take pets into consideration.
I have in the past seen parties that have mediated an agreement and worked out a “parenting plan” for their pets. Mediation allows parties to think outside the square and formulate solutions that you’d not be able to ask a court to make orders about.
Believe it or not, this does happen. Earlier this year a dispute about the custody of a dog reached the Federal Court in Brisbane with the court finding dogs were personal property and, given the woman solely adopted the dog, it remained hers. Her ex-husband was ordered to pay $6,800 towards his ex-wife’s legal costs.
If you have any concerns regarding custody over your pet, contact Andrew McCormack at firstname.lastname@example.org.