Leaving an abusive relationship is naturally a very traumatic experience. If you need to leave such a relationship, it will often mean that you will need to relocate to a new home. Such a new home might only be temporary if you stay with a friend, a family member, or in crisis accommodation. If you have a pet, you will no doubt wish to take the animal with you. This is not always obviously possible, as many temporary homes will not necessarily be able to accommodate an animal. This is even more likely in the case of larger animals, such as certain breeds of dog. So what can you do to ensure that your pet will also be able to leave a potentially dangerous environment?
Ownership of the Animal
It is infinitely easier to bring an animal with you if you can claim ownership. In the cases of dogs or animals that require legal registration, you should ensure that the animal's registration is held in your name. If an animal does not require legal registration, you should contact the vet where the animal is treated (if applicable) and request that the animal's details are registered to you and only to you. This is not binding, and yet can be helpful at a later stage if custody (ownership) of the animal is contested.
Temporary Accommodation for Your Pets
There is funding available in some states and territories that allow for these circumstances. You might be able to apply for funding which will pay for your animal to be housed in a shelter or a boarding facility until such time as you are able to find permanent accommodation. The available amount will vary depending on which state or territory you live in, so you should enquire with the applicable body in your area. Knowing that your pet will be placed in secure temporary accommodation can be a huge weight off your mind.
Contesting Custody of an Animal
Pets are sentient beings with their own distinctive personalities and are undeniable members of the family. Despite this, animals are considered as property in the legal sense. If your former partner refuses to relinquish custody of your pet, you might need to pursue the matter in the courts. An animal lawyer is concerned with the welfare of animals and primarily works in family law or even property law. The lawyer will outline the reasons why the animal should not remain with your former partner, which is usually due to legitimate concerns that the animal might be mistreated or even killed if it remains in its current location. Contact legal aid in your state or territory to be provided with a list of lawyers who might be able to help. You could be eligible for legal aid funding, which means that the lawyer will not directly charge you for the cost of the work. The services of a lawyer might also be required if you take the animal with you when you leave and if your former partner then tries to claim custody of the animal.
You need to consider your own safety or wellbeing if you're in an abusive, dangerous relationship, and yet you also need to consider your pet. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to you. Contact an animal lawyer for more information about your options.
Welcome! My name is Jessica, and I work as a legal aid secretary. I am in awe of the lawyers in my office and the variety of cases they cover. From injury compensation to family court matters, they need to understand the law in a broad range of areas. As a legal secretary, it is often my job to research particular points of law or find certain cases for reference. It is a fascinating job and I work hard to keep up with the constant changes to our laws and legal processes. Friends and family often ask me for direction on legal matters and whilst I explain that I am no expert, I usually manage to provide sound advice. This blog is for people who share my passion for the law or who want to understand more about our legal system. I hope you find it engaging and useful.