Dog custody: Spain will consider animal welfare in divorce battles

Band Corina Pons

MADRID, January 5 (Reuters)Spain will consider the welfare of a pet when couples divorce or separate from Wednesday in a legal change that strengthens the case for couples getting joint custody of their pets.

The decision follows similar moves in France and Portugal and requires judges to consider pets as sentient beings rather than objects belonging to either partner, a trend that was already in progress. course before the adoption of the law.

“Animals are part of the family and when a family decides to separate, the fate of the animal must be settled with the same importance as the fate of the other members of the family,” said lawyer Lola Garcia, 42 years old.

In October, a judge in Madrid awarded joint custody of a dog to an unmarried couple who asked a court to decide who the animal should stay with after their separation. The dog spends a month with each of them and both are legally responsible.

Garcia, whose law firm Rights&Animals handled the case, sees the reform as a major first step in a series of upcoming legal changes governing people’s relationship with animals.

Pet ownership is high in Spain among European countries and the left-wing coalition government is planning new legislation to strengthen animal rights, including banning wild animals in circuses and stopping the sale of pets. pets in stores.

However, the nation remains polarized over the tradition of bullfighting, a hotly contested animal rights issue that is unlikely to be resolved in the near future.

Previously, a lawyer seeking joint custody of a pet had to prove that both members of a couple owned the animal as an object, giving an advantage to whoever registered the animal.

Now a judge must determine where the animal will fare better and that determination is based on the welfare of the animal, Garcia explained.

A partner who can demonstrate financial solvency or who has obtained custody of their children is also more likely to obtain custody of any pet, as there is a special emotional bond between children and animals, she added.

Rodrigo Costavilas, 31, a psychologist walking his dog in Madrid Rio Park praised the new law.

“This will help reduce the number of abandoned or abused animals.”

(Reporting by Corina Pons and Michael Gore Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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