In British Columbia, pets are generally considered property under family law. This means that when a couple separates or divorces, the court will treat the pet the same way as any other asset or property, such as a car or furniture.
However, in rare cases, the court has taken into account the well-being and best interests of the pet and has made orders that go beyond simply dividing the pet as property. For example, a court may order that one party has primary custody and control of the pet, or that the parties share custody of the pet in a way that is in the best interests of the animal. Much like the purchase of a car, typically, the court will assess who paid for the pet, who cared for the pet, and who “owns” the pet. Of note, this takes place in Small Claims Court, and not Family Court.
It’s important to note that the law surrounding pets and family law is constantly evolving, and courts may take a more nuanced approach to the issue in the future. Additionally, couples who are separating or divorcing may be able to come to their own agreement about the care and custody of their pets without involving the court.