So, who keeps the dog in a family separation?
February 2018 marks the start of the year of the Dog in the Chinese Calendar. I have been lucky to have a family pet dog throughout childhood and adult life. My husband and I cherish our little canine fur child “Pablo”. Dogs are loyal and dependable. They express such joy and excitement at the simple things in life. They can really cheer you up when you are feeling down. So, who keeps the dog in a family separation?
In the Family Court case of Downey & Beale  FCCA 316 the Court was asked to make a difficult decision about who should keep the dog in a family separation. The dog was purchased and paid for by the husband prior to the relationship and registered in his name. The wife claimed however that the dog had always lived with her and produced evidence of having paid all the vaccinations, operations, food and accessories.
The Court ruled that the wife could keep the dog. The Court quoted “dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole”. It is not a matter of who acquired the dog gets to keep the dog, but rather who cared for the dog. The dog stayed to live with the wife after the parties separated and she paid for and cared for him. As such the Court ordered that the dog could continue to live with her.
No doubt this decision was difficult for the husband as no longer having your dog in your life causes much grief. However, the most important thing at the end of the day is that a dog continues to be well cared for.
Jacqueline Conquest, Principal, Accredited Family Law Specialist