Who Gets Pet Custody in a Divorce?

Woman with pet custody after a pet-nup
Legally reviewed by: Shakeela Bi In: Family

The 11th of April marks this year’s National Pets day. According to the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association, “a total of 3.2 million households have bought a pet since the start of the pandemic.” During and after the pandemic, law firms also saw a rise in divorce enquiries. Blue Cross found that 1 in 4 divorces involved disputes about pets. In the event of a divorce, a written agreement with your partner termed a ‘pet-nup’  can help in amicable decision-making regarding pet custody.

Steps to Take When a Relationship Breaks Down with Your Partner

Negotiate with Your Partner

If a pet-nup has not been previously agreed upon, you may want to negotiate with your partner.


If negotiation fails, mediation can be useful to resolve conflict and disagreements. When you attend your first mediation session, a specialist mediator will sit down with all parties to fully understand your situation. Once the mediator has established what you want from the session, they will put forward a range of proposals, questions, offers, and counteroffers. A mediator will never decide or suggest a solution on your behalf.

Instruct a Divorce Solicitor

Deciding who gets what assets in a divorce can be difficult, especially when it comes to deciding who gets pet custody. Therefore, a divorce solicitor can help you through the whole process of divorce. At Cartwright King, we can offer you expert legal services to guide you through all the decisions you will need to make for yourself and your family.

Our family law solicitors can assist you through your divorce. Click here for more information on our family solicitors.


Arbitration is the way of settling a dispute without the need to escalate it to court.  Your case is put forward to an independent person called an arbitrator. The arbitrator will look at the evidence submitted by both sides and grant a legally binding award. If you disagree with the award, then you can take your case to the courts.

How is Pet Custody Decided in Court in England and Wales?

Pet custody is decided by both parties putting forward their case to the court. You can present evidence such as:

  • Documentation on who bought the dog
  • The name registered to the rescue shelter or Kennel Club
  • If the dog has been microchipped, whose name is on the database at the vet’s practice on the insurance certificate.

Additionally, the court will consider information relating to the care of the dog when deciding on pet custody. The court will consider:

  • Who is at home for more hours?
  • Which partner’s house accommodates the pet?

As a result, if both parties cannot agree on pet custody, the court will decide on who can provide the best care.

How Can a Pet-nup Help With Pet Custody?

What is a Pet-nup Agreement?

A pet-nup is a written agreement deciding who gets the pet in the case of a divorce. When discussing a pet-nup, you may want to consider some factors such as:

  • Which party gets the pet in a divorce?
  • Who should pay for vet fees?
  • Who makes decisions relating to medical treatments for the pet?
  • Which party will be responsible for pet insurance?
  • Who should walk the pet?

In the case of a court proceeding, a Judge can use a pet-nup to assist the case. Therefore, along with pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements, pet nup agreements can help make separations easier and amicable for both parties.

Are Pet-nups Legally Binding?

Pet-nups are not legally binding but with the increase in pet custody disagreements, they are providing increasingly valuable in Family Courts.

How Can Our Divorce Solicitors Help You with Pet Custody?

Our family law solicitors can help you during each step of the divorce process, whilst focusing on getting you the best result.

Our dedicated family law solicitors have helped many clients through their divorce and separation proceedings, including financial settlement hearings and children disputes. We have a long history of finding compromises that work for everyone.

Contact us today for expert help and advice.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.