Spain will treat pets as ‘living beings’ and not ‘objects’ in custody battles

Spain will treat pets as 'living beings' and not 'objects' in custody battles
Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP
The Spanish Parliament has pre-approved a measure which will enshrine the rights of dogs, cats and other domestic animals as “living beings” which “have feelings” with regards to legal affairs such as divorces or inheritances.

Who gets the dog or cat when a couple breaks up?

A proposed reform of Spain’s legal framework seeks to recognise animals as “living beings with  feelings” instead of mere objects as has been the case until now.

The change will pave the way for judges to declare joint custody of pets in divorce hearings just as they do with children.

Until now custody of pets “has been the subject of controversy in our courts,” according to the proposed amendment to the legal code which still has to be approved by parliament. Spain has the fourth highest rate of divorce in the EU. 

The reform “sets out the criteria on which the courts must rely in deciding who to entrust custody of the animal, taking into account its well being”.

It will also give pet owners the right to compensation for “moral injury” if their animal is hurt by another person.

The proposed change to the law was introduced in parliament on Tuesday by Spain’s ruling Socialists and Podemos, their far-left junior coalition partners.

Photo: Pierre Philippe Marcou/AFP

It is backed by all other parties, except the far-right Vox party, which is currently making headlines for its controversial Madrid campaign poster targetting unaccompanied migrant minors in Spain

Almost 50 percent of Spanish homes have a pet, although Spain also has one of the highest levels of animal abandonment in Europe. 

Several other European nations including France, Germany and Switzerland, have already changed their legal code to recognise domestic animals as living beings.


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