Downey & Beale  FCCA 316 was before the Federal Circuit Court earlier this year. This property matter did not need the interference of the Court for all financial matters except one, whose dog is it? Prior to this all other financial matters had been settled.
Who keeps the dog after a separation?
In determining the outstanding issue the dog was considered by the Court to be “property” and ultimately it was held that the Applicant Wife was the rightful owner.
The factors considered by the Court were as follows:
- The purchase of the dog;
- The registration of the dog;
- Who the dog lived with pre and post separation as well as during the marriage; and
- Who contributed to the costs of the dog.
Financial contribution to the cost
The wife was able to show that the husband had indeed purchased the dog as a birthday gift for the wife. The husband did not oppose this, however he unlike the wife was unable to evidence contributions made to the dog. The dog also remained in the care of the wife post-separation where she contributed to the costs of the dog.
The husband did try to argue that he had registered the dog and the registration papers showed that this was in his name. This was rejected in circumstances where the husband attempted this tactic 8 months after separation when the dog was already living with the wife.
This case exemplifies that whilst matters may be in relation to property only and not parenting, there is “property” that holds sentimental value and certain things which can shape an entire matter even when parties’ houses, cars or superannuation are not at the centre of attention or are no longer an issue at all for that matter.