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Divorce and your pet

Strong emotional relationships are known to develop between humans and pets. Some even speak of a soul mate. Often, in the case of divorce, the pet is also a bone of contention. But with whom does the pet remain in the case of divorce?

According to Austrian law, pets are not property, but the provisions of property law apply to them. If they were taken into the family during the marriage, dogs, cats and mice are to be classified as marital property. In the case of divorce, the pet is therefore also subject to postmarital property division. But how exactly is the allocation made?

First of all, the spouses can settle the postmarital division of assets by mutual agreement. This is done before or during the marriage by means of a prenuptial agreement. If an amicable divorce is to be carried out, the regulation with whom the animal is to remain is even a prerequisite. If desired, arrangements can even be made for visiting rights to the animal.

If an agreement is not possible, the court decides in the apportionment proceedings. The decision is made according to different principles, first and foremost according to equity. For the allocation of a dog, the Supreme Court has recently considered the following arguments as decisive:

  • Stronger emotional bond
  • Better care and housing options in the future

In the event of a divorce, all this would therefore have to be proven. In order not to leave the decision about one's dearest companions (and also the remaining assets) to the court, this should be settled before the divorce.

This can be used to regulate who is to keep the family dog, cat or mouse in the event of divorce. Even a visitation right can be included in it.

Since divorces do not pass our pets without a trace, a settlement in advance or an amicable solution is recommended.