It's remarkable just how much pet laws vary in different places around the world. In Prague, there's a cinema where you can take your dog with you.  Over in the Netherlands, your dog can travel with you on the train, provided they have their own ticket, although small dogs can travel for free. Australia has its own set of restrictions when it comes to where dogs can go (and the country might not be as dog-friendly as you think), but pet laws don't simply pertain to where a dog can and cannot go; they also to the animal's ownership. With the exception of the ACT, animals in Australia are viewed as property. This might be their legal classification, but it's not something that is generally even thought about until the question of who owns this particular piece of property is disputed. When the responsibility for the dog is shared between a couple, and that couple breaks up, is it possible to share custody of your pooch?

Legal Ownership

The owner of the dog is generally the person who holds the registration for the dog. Even if you're the dog's primary caregiver, the dog is still owned by your partner if they were the one who registered the animal with your local council. The matter of shared custody can be negotiated during your separation, but the legal owner of the dog can have the final say in these negotiations. How formal should such a custody arrangement be?

Not Quite a Parenting Agreement

When a couple separates and there are children involved, formal mediation with a view to forming a parenting agreement is the usual course of action. Although you cannot form a binding parenting agreement for a dog, you can still have a written agreement drafted by your solicitors (if legal representation is required) which both parties should adhere to. Alternatively, you and your partner can just draw this agreement up yourselves, with an emphasis on what is best for the dog. But how can you assess what is best for your dog?

The Specifics of Custody

Your dog should still have a primary residence, ideally remaining in their existing home, as this allows them to keep their usual routine and familiarity with their environment. They should spend a designated amount of time at your ex-partner's new home, whether it's each weekend, or each second weekend, or whatever you feel is most appropriate. This might not be feasible, depending on your ex-partner's new living arrangements. The dog might not be permitted at a rental property, or it might not be allowed inside at a rental property. In this instance, you can arrange offsite meetings for your ex-partner and your dog, such as regular walks and excursions. The agreement can be reassessed if your ex-partner's living arrangements were to change.

Just like with human children, it can be beneficial for both you and your ex-partner to remain part of your dog's life. It's just a matter of determining the best way to achieve this.