Spanish court orders ex to pay pet maintenance after divorce

Family pet included in divorce ruling

Image of a sad pet dog. Credit: gostua/

Is your pet just as much a family member as your children?

In a landmark ruling by a court in Vigo, Galicia, this question seems to have been answered reflecting a significant shift in legal perspectives on pet care after family separations.

In January 2022, two years following the enactment of the Law on the Legal Regime of Animals, which recognises pets as sentient beings rather than mere objects, the Court of First Instance number 15 in Vigo decreed a unique monthly pension for a pet caught in the middle of a divorce.

This decision placed the animal in the custody of the woman and required her ex-husband to contribute €40 monthly towards the pet’s expenses, with any extraordinary and veterinary costs split between the two.

Legal recognition of pets as sentient beings

Under the new legal framework, pets are awarded considerations similar to other family members, including children.

This approach mandates the continued assurance of their well-being and protection, even amidst family breakdowns.

Courts across Spain have since been adjudicating on matters of custody and visitation rights for pets, but the Vigo ruling pushes the envelope further by establishing a financial support system for the pet, similar to child support arrangements.

The Vigo Court’s ground-breaking decision

The animal ‘will remain in the care’ of the woman ‘and the extraordinary and veterinary expenses will be paid in half.’

The ex-husband ‘will contribute to the expense’ of the pet ‘with the sum of €40 per month payable in the first five days of each month and updated annually in accordance with the CPI.’

This ruling, issued over a year ago but only recently highlighted due to its appeal, integrates pets fully into the family unit’s post-divorce financial arrangements, reflecting their status as beings with rights and needs.

The broader implications for pet welfare

This case not only underlines the evolving legal status of animals in Spain but also sets a precedent for how pets are viewed and treated in legal disputes.

It represents a progressive step towards acknowledging the emotional and practical responsibilities pet owners hold, ensuring pets are not overlooked in the complex processes of familial separation.

This ruling from Vigo is a testament to the changing tide in societal values, where the welfare of all family members, including pets, is given equal consideration.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Brian

      14 March 2024 • 14:17

      Nice but many (especially “hunters”!) don’t give a s☆☆t about their dogs here! Getting too old? It’s shot!

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