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Who gets the pet when a couple separates? B.C. looking at amendments to Family Law Act


New guidance is being proposed to help judges in B.C. decide what happens to a family pet when a couple separates.

If passed, Family Law Act amendments introduced by attorney general Niki Sharma Monday will require consideration of who is able and willing to care for a pet, if a child has a relationship with the animal and if the family pet may be at risk of violence.

"The amendments make it easier for people to come up with their own agreements when it comes to how to divide the family pet time with the family pet or if they can't, to get an order from a judge to say who's who gets custody of the family pet," Sharma told reporters at the legislature.

V. Victoria Shroff a lawyer and educator specializing in animal law, told CTV News, there's been a steady increase in the number of cases involving what she calls "pet custody." Part of that, she says, is due to the increased number of people who got pets during the pandemic.

She said the amendments introduced by the province aim to view the pet not as property, but as a part of a family. Shroff called the move, "groundbreaking."

Shroff added she believed this was the first time legislation like this was introduced in Canada.

"I think it's going to bring clarity, it's going to help separating couples, I I'm really, really jazzed about it," she added. Top Stories

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