For many of us, our pets are not just animals – they’re cherished family members. So, when facing the heartbreak of divorce, the question of who gets to keep the beloved pet can add another layer of emotional complexity to the process.

The tug-of-war over our four-legged or feathered friends can sometimes be as heated as any other aspect of separation.

At O’Sullivan Legal, we understand the deep emotional bonds you share with your pets and how crucial it is to address this aspect of your separation with sensitivity and care.

This article sheds light on navigating pet custody during a divorce and how we can assist you through this challenging phase.

Learn more about our divorce services.

The Legal Status of Pets in Australia

In the eyes of the Australian legal system, pets are considered property. Unlike child custody battles, where the best interests of the child are prioritised, pets are viewed more like assets to be divided between parties. It may sound cold and clinical, but this is the current legal stance.

However, while they are classified as ‘property’, the court does recognise the sentimental value and attachment individuals have to their pets. When determining who gets custody, factors like who has been the primary caregiver, who has the financial means to care for the pet, and who the pet is more attached to, can influence the decision.

The Importance of Mediation

Given the legal viewpoint, couples often find that mediation is a more appropriate and compassionate route to resolve pet custody disputes. Mediation allows both parties to discuss and reach an agreement that best suits them and their pets. This approach often leads to more flexible and tailored solutions, such as shared custody or visitation rights for the non-custodial party.

At O’Sullivan Legal, we strongly advocate for mediation, especially in complicated and emotionally charged issues like pet custody. Our aim is to help you find a resolution that respects both your feelings and the wellbeing of your pets.

What You Can Do


Keep any documentation related to your pet, such as purchase or adoption papers, vet bills, and training certificates. This can help establish the primary caretaker and the financial contributions made by each party.

Be Open to Compromise

Sometimes, a shared arrangement might be in the best interest of the pet, especially if both parties have been closely involved in its care.

Consider the Pet’s Wellbeing

Above all, consider what is best for your pet. This might mean letting go if the other party has better facilities, more time, or a stronger bond with the animal.

How O’Sullivan Legal Can Help

At O’Sullivan Legal, our commitment extends beyond just providing legal services. We understand the emotional intricacies involved in family law matters, especially when beloved pets are concerned. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to guide and support you, ensuring that your rights and those of your furry, scaled, or feathered family members are upheld.

Divorce is challenging, and the question of pet custody can make it even more so. But with understanding, compromise, and the right legal guidance, it’s possible to arrive at a solution that works for everyone involved – humans and pets alike.

If you’re facing a divorce and are concerned about the future of your pets, reach out to our team at O’Sullivan Legal. We’re here to provide the expertise, compassion, and support you need during this difficult time.

Speak to our team today to see how we can help you with your divorce matter.