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  • Writer's pictureMelanie J Bowbell

Navigating Pet Custody: What Happens to Animals During a Divorce in Alberta (update!)

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Divorce is a challenging chapter that affects not only the individuals involved but often extends to beloved family members – including our furry friends. If you're a pet owner in Alberta going through a divorce, you're probably wondering about the fate of your loyal companion. Let's shed light on what happens to animals during a divorce in Alberta and how you can ensure the best outcome for your beloved pet.

Understanding Alberta's Legal Perspective

As of my last update in September 2021, the law treats pets as property in Alberta, similar to any other asset subject to division during divorce proceedings. While this might seem impersonal for a beloved pet, it's essential to remember that the law aims to ensure fairness and clarity during a divorce process.

Factors Considered in Pet Custody

When it comes to pet custody, courts in Alberta consider various factors to determine who gets custody of the animal:

  1. Primary Caregiver: The court might consider which spouse was the primary caregiver, responsible for the daily needs and well-being of the pet.

  2. Ownership Documentation: If one spouse has official ownership documentation, such as adoption papers or purchase receipts, it could influence the decision.

  3. Best Interests of the Pet: Courts may prioritize the best interests of the pet, considering factors such as living conditions, work schedules, and financial ability to care for the animal.

  4. Agreement Between Parties: If you and your ex-spouse can reach a mutual agreement regarding pet custody, the court is likely to respect your decision.

Negotiating Pet Custody Amicably

The emotional bond between humans and their pets is undeniable. To ensure a smoother process and protect your pet's well-being, consider the following steps:

  1. Open Communication: Discuss pet custody with your ex-spouse and consider what arrangement would be best for the pet's comfort and routine.

  2. Mediation: If possible, opt for mediation to reach an agreement outside of court. This can lead to a more flexible and personalized solution for your pet's care.

  3. Joint Custody: Some divorcing couples opt for joint custody of their pets, allowing the animal to spend time with both individuals.

  4. Care Schedule: Create a clear care schedule detailing feeding times, walks, vet appointments, and any special needs the pet might have.

  5. Pet's Well-Being: Always prioritize your pet's well-being over personal emotions. Determine what living arrangement and routine would be least disruptive to their life.

Moving Forward with Compassion

Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging time, and adding pet custody considerations can heighten emotions. Remember that your pet's happiness and stability matter most. By approaching the situation with empathy and open communication, you can make the transition smoother for both you and your furry friend.

As laws and regulations can change, it's crucial to consult with a legal professional who specializes in family law in Alberta to understand the most up-to-date information regarding pet custody during divorce. Ultimately, your commitment to your pet's well-being will guide you in making the best decisions during this trying time.

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