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Pet welfare now considered in family separations under new B.C. law

Ability and willingness to care for an animal, relationships between it and a child now relevant

British Columbia Attorney General Niki Sharma says the often difficult issue of pet custody for families going through break ups could be easier to decide with family law changes that took effect Monday.

She says the changes aim to improve the process for determining ownership of pets after a separation or divorce.

Previously, Sharma says pet ownership issues following a break up were similar to those used by the courts to determine how property is divided.

Instead, the courts will now consider a person’s ability and willingness to care for an animal, relationships between a child and an animal and risks of animal cruelty to help determine pet ownership.

Sharma introduced the amendments to the B.C. Family Law Act last spring to ensure the important role pets play in families will now be considered and to provide more guidance for people and judges.

Sharma says the government has also launched a public consultation until March 31 where people are encouraged to share how family law can improve in the areas of health, safety and the well-being of children.

READ ALSO: New B.C. legislation looks to clarify pet custody during divorce