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Pets During Divorce and Separation Cases

Sad girl embracing dog, parents fighting in the background

According to Bloomberg, there were an estimated three million new pets who joined Canadian homes over the pandemic.

As much as we love our pets, you may be currently faced with the unfortunate circumstance of deciding who gets your furry friend during a divorce. 

Read below to learn about pet custody laws in Ontario.

Who Gets My Dog if My Partner and I Divorce?

Typically, in any divorce or separation, the animals often end up living with the person who bought them, unless the other spouse can provide evidence of a gift, abuse or mistreatment of the animal. 

If you purchased the pet together, circumstances may differ which is why it’s best to talk with your lawyer to see how you can ensure you keep your pet.  In these cases it will come down to the evidence, such as but not limited to, who is listed as the pet’s owner on its registrations with any Kennel Clubs, or treatment providers.

So, What are the Pet Laws in Ontario?

For some pet owners, four-legged friends are part of the family just as much as any other family member. 

Unfortunately, in Ontario courts have traditionally treated pets like other pieces of personal property, such as furniture. So if there are two pets and ownership is unclear, one party typically gets one pet and the other party the other.

Even though the close connection between owners and their pets, family law courts will not typically allow each party to apply joint custody and access into their case when it comes to animals.  This is something that parties have to agree to on their own.

What Happens When a Child is Emotionally Connected to a Pet?

Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, pets may be given to the parent who will be living on a full time basis with the child. 

In rare cases, courts have made decisions concerning pets based on what is in a child’s best interest. In these cases the pet may stay with the primary parent, or travel with the child.


We know your pets, like ours, are like family and you would do anything to keep them close.

If you are getting a divorce be sure to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation, to discuss how your pets will be impacted by your separation or divorce.

Although you might feel like you don’t need a lawyer for your divorce, it’s best to connect with a one to ensure that you aren’t subject to any legal implications.

This blog is made available by the law firm publisher, Epstein & Associates, for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice. Any specific questions about your legal concerns please contact us now and speak to an expert today.