Q&A - Who gets the dog when we separate?

Q: I have recently separated from my long term partner, and as you can imagine, there are a lot of issues that now need to be resolved. Although it may seem silly, one of the most difficult issues we have discussed to date is who gets to keep Hulk, our French bulldog. I know that in the majority of separation cases it is money that people argue over but, for me, keeping Hulk is all I care about. My former partner is not however prepared to give Hulk up and she says under no circumstances will she agree to me keeping him.

A: You will probably be surprised to learn that this situation is not as unusual as you think it is. You are not the first, nor will you be the last to consult a solicitor in respect of what happens to your pets upon separation. However, English and Welsh Law determines that pets, including dogs, are considered as objects in a separation. The general position as to who takes possession of the object, i.e. in your case Hulk, would therefore fall down to proof of ownership.

In respect of what this may mean for you on a practical basis, it may be worth considering who purchased Hulk, who cares for him, who pays for his food and vets bills, who controls him and who is generally considered to be his owner? If Hulk was a gift to you, you would of course argue that he does belong to you.

Understandably this answer is perhaps not in practical terms as straight forward as you had hoped. Moving forward, your best option would probably be to make an appointment to meet with a specialist solicitor to discuss your options.

(Published 09/04/2018)


Mari Sherrington, Solicitor at GHP Legal

Mari Sherrington


Part of our Family & Matrimonial team in Wrexham

Alison Peters

Alison Peters


A Partner in our Family and Matrimonial department in Oswestry