Splitting possessions on divorce18-Apr-2019

By Susan Alexander, Consultant Solicitor, Family and Mediation

What happens to your pets when you divorce?

However much you may love them, pets are not treated like children in the family courts. Pets are treated as possessions or chattels and ownership is generally established by who bought or acquired the pet and is able to prove it. If you have the pedigree documents or receipt for purchase, then there is a presumption that you own the pet. The family courts will not make orders about how much time a pet will spend with each person following separation. Some ideas about how couples have dealt with their pets are:
• Rehoming the pets
• Agreeing times for each person to look after the pet
• Agreeing which person should have the pet
• Having the pet put down!

Mediation can be a very helpful and cost-effective way of discussing the arrangements for any pets if you find that you can’t do this yourselves.

What about other possessions like jewellery?

There is a presumption that engagement and wedding rings are gifts and thus the property of the giftee. However, if an item of jewellery was purchased as an investment then it may be classed as matrimonial property. 

Or household contents?

These can be worth money and/or have sentimental value. Courts avoid dealing with splitting contents so you’re best to agree a split between yourselves. If this is difficult, consider using mediation to help you.

Some couples take turns about to choose items; others provide a list of items they would each like; some couples divide contents by each taking the items they brought into the marriage or were gifted by their side of the family and splitting any items which were bought jointly.

Where there are children, it’s important to remember that their needs should be prioritised, so it is often in their interests that any furniture or items used by the children would be kept in the house where they spend most of their time. It is possible to litigate about contents, but do remember that it is the second hand value of the items, not the replacement value which is relevant. Litigation costs may exceed the value of the items resulting in a ‘pyrrhic’ victory.

For more information about our Family Law services, please contact a member of the Family Law team on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.