Who gets the pets in a divorce?

When talking about a divorce or separation, children are often the first concern that comes to mind. However, those who have a dog or other pet know how important animals can become to a family. On certain occasions, disputes over who will take responsibility for the pet can lead to litigation that requires the attention of the best family lawyers in Barcelona. How are such situations resolved?

When delving into this issue, it is first necessary to understand the current legal status of animals. Sticking to the Civil Code, they are still technically classified as personal property, comparable for property purposes to any other material belonging of a person.

In this regard, there is a proposed bill in process in Congress that would modify the Civil Code, the Civil Procedure Law and the Mortgage Law with the aim of giving animals legal status based on the premise that they are “living beings endowed with feelings”.

The proposed text includes, among other sections, changes to articles 90, 94 and 103 to specifically regulate the care of pets following a divorce, introducing it as a matter that must be decided upon in the regulatory agreement and provisional measures.

Until these reforms are approved, it may be advisable to establish an agreement motu proprio in the regulatory agreement that can prevent future conflicts. Legal precedents recommend that the terms of the agreement be very specific so that they can be taken into account: in 2006, a decree from the Barcelona Court dismissed the implementation of an agreement regarding visitation rights for a dog due to a lack of specific established conditions.

In the absence of such an agreement, case law does not seem to establish a single criterion, but is instead divided between cases that refer to the regulation of any other asset (calling for proof of the origin of the property and whether it belongs to the couple or just one of the partners) and those which consider animals to be part of the family, generally decreeing that they remain with the person who has custody of the children.

In a complex and relatively uncommon situation like this one, it is worthwhile to have the advice of a team of lawyers like those at ICN LEGAL, who are former judges with the necessary specialization in matters of family law.

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