Protecting Interests of Animals in Custody Disputes: Italian Caselaw Outpaces Italian and European Union Legislation

In: Society & Animals
Paola Fossati Department of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of the Studies of Milan Italy

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People who live with pets (companion animals) in many cases see their pets as family members. Yet, in the eyes of the law, pets are still considered personal property. This is relevant to pet custody matters that may arise at the time of divorce or separation; pets fall within divorce financial proceedings. However, they have the unique nature of living and sentient property, which has interests. In this perspective, the best interest of the nonhuman animal should always be taken into account. Nonetheless, the law lacks definitive standards, and the ways in which courts construe contractual disputes involving nonhuman animals that relate to custody disputes in marital or other relationships do not always take into consideration the unique nature of this living and sentient property. This article provides an examination of the current Italian legal system and of Italian case law related to this matter.

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