My wife and I were walking the dog yesterday in a rare moment without the children. Given what is happening with our friends and my profession we were talking about people and what happens during a divorce. At this point our 13-year-old Springer Spaniel came running towards us, covered in something unpleasant that she had found to roll in, tongue hanging out, ears flapping. My wife immediately remarked that “if we divorced you get the dog!”
She didn’t mean it of course (I think!) but it did make me think about a couple of cases where my clients have argued about contents. Sure the family heirlooms and certain items of significant sentimental value given their history may be worth it but quite often it will be items of insignificant value that can cause lengthy and costly arguments. The value of the item being far outweighed by the legal costs incurred.
But people can get very sentimental over many things and it is clearly not for me to judge the importance of the item to that individual but to secure the best possible outcome for my client running up unnecessary and out of proportion legal fees. Pets often fall into this category, our dog for example 13 years old, suffering with arthritis, heart murmur, slowly going blind, uninsurable and costing us a fortune in medication each month, is not worth much but is clearly a much-loved pet.
Given that I currently walk the dog, feed the dog, clean the dog and pay for the dog, I have told my wife that she can keep the dog! I would insist that as she is the registered owner and keeper, the judge would no doubt uphold this fact if ever the question came to court.
It seems crazy, but I know of many couples whose divorce has been delayed because of arguments over who will keep the family pet.
In many instances, the couple do not have children and the dog/cat/parrot etc. have been treated like their child so it is understandable to an extent.