A recent Family Court decision has granted ownership of a dog to a woman after a relationship property dispute with her ex-partner.

The couple had jointly cared for the dog prior to their separation but could not agree on who would get ownership of the dog.

Initially, the couple decided that they would share ownership of the dog and would conduct handovers weekly. This proved to be ineffective after an incident occurred at the changeover, leading to the care arrangement ending. The couple also did not speak or communicate with each other directly following their separation.

The woman argued that she had contributed far more to the upbringing and care of the dog. She had arranged for the dog’s adoption, took responsibility for the veterinary shots and registration, trained the dog by herself, and continually met the dog’s needs throughout its upbringing. She also had care of the pet cats, who were bonded to the dog.

The man argued that he could provide for the dog just as effectively, and that the removal of the dog from his life would adversely affect his and his children’s lives. He thought a shared care arrangement would be appropriate.

The primary consideration for the Court was the welfare of the dog. The judge decided that it was in the dog’s best interests to be solely owned by the woman. The judge stated that the woman had been responsible for the dog’s upbringing almost entirely and had consistently provided a high level of care to the dog. It was determined that she could place the dog’s needs as her priority.

A shared care arrangement was not considered to be appropriate due to the conflict between the parties, and the likelihood of the dog being exposed to the conflict for an indeterminate period in the future.

The judge gave the woman full ownership of the dog.

If there is confusion around relationship property matters, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.


Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.