Divorce settlement – who gets the dog?

8th March 2015 by


Deciding who gets what in a divorce settlement can result in very difficult negotiations. While family solicitors and judges will have practice guidelines to act upon, their advice and judgments in relation to division of property will be based on divorce precedent set over many years.

Although each settlement is unique, in many cases matters are unlikely to be straightforward and emotions can often run high. Whether you are negotiating a divorce settlement in Brighton, London or elsewhere in the UK, the advice of an experienced divorce solicitor can be invaluable at such a time.

Who gets the dog/credenza/season tickets?

It may sound petty, but some of the most contentious divorce battles are fought over pets, items of furniture or even rights to visit a favourite place such as a restaurant or sports ground.

To prevent such conflicts, couples might decide to negotiate a pre-nuptial agreement, pre-civil partnership agreement, or even a post-nuptial agreement if the ceremony has already taken place.

Pre-nups, pre-cips and post-nups are all specific types of marital property agreement and they can be very useful if a family member has strong feelings about an item of property or an asset which they would not wish to lose ownership of in the event of relationship breakdown.

Certain items, such as an heirloom handed down following the death of a relative, may be fairly easy to prove rights to, especially if the item is still in the owner’s possession and has not been sold, so as to liquidate the asset. However, profits from the sale of a valuable painting, left to one of the spouses in a couple, and then used to fund the purchase of a family property would probably not be recoverable in their entirety for the original owner.

Items bought jointly by a couple and/or those which cannot be split directly or liquidated as an asset, such as a pet, may cause dispute and will need careful negotiation in order to agree suitable settlement.

Mediation and collaborative divorce when things need careful negotiation

If a couple has a well drawn up marital property agreement, the family court may find that the couple’s wishes for the sharing of their assets are fair and just, and it will let the contents of the agreement stand.

Family judges will consider each agreement based on its own merits and will make sure that both parties had received adequate legal advice before signing the marital property agreement. They will also ensure that no dependants will be disadvantaged as the result of a pre- or post-nup agreement.

If a couple does not have a suitable marital property agreement and they are having difficulty in agreeing how to divide assets and wealth, then a family court will require them to, at the very least, investigate whether mediation could benefit them.

Alternatively, a couple may choose to undertake a collaborative divorce, whereby all parties, including the divorce solicitors, agree to conduct the divorce without the need for litigation and in a respectful, round-table manner.

In this way, the couple may be able to quickly negotiate a reasonable division of property and both will leave the negotiations having had their thoughts and wished aired and heard.

So, who actually gets the dog?

Even as experienced as we are at Healys, our divorce solicitors in Brighton and London can’t answer that question without speaking to you and listening to your situation.

If you wish to conduct a collaborative divorce, we have trained collaborative lawyers on hand to explain the process. We can also help you identify whether this process would be suitable for you or whether a course of mediation would be more appropriate.

All our divorce specialists are dedicated to offering an entirely client-focused service which acts to ensure the most positive outcome for you on divorce. We use plain English to help you understand the process quickly and easily and believe that you should be in control at all times, so we work with you to move proceedings forward as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For advice on marital property agreements or divorce settlements please contact Catherine Taylor in Brighton on 01273 669 124 or email catherine.taylor@healys.com. For London enquiries, please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email jane.sanders@healys.com