Leaving your spouse? Here's a trick for how to share custody of your pets

If you're the parent of a fur baby thinking of leaving your spouse, you may want to consider the kind of custody agreement you're willing to live with, with your soon-to-be-ex.

According to the Montreal SPCA, statistics show you're more likely to have a long-lasting union with your pet than your, well, human.

As a result, the organization has come up with a contract -- apparently the first of its kind in Quebec -- for couples to sign, should the relationship go south.

It's all part of the SPCA's Lasting Relationship campaign, which encourages couples to formalize their custody agreement in event of a break-up.

“We hope such agreements will become standard practice during the adoption process, not only at the Montreal SPCA, but throughout Quebec," said Sophie Gaillard, director of animal advocacy and legal affairs at the Montreal SPCA.

The organization is also launching a petition demanding that courts consider an animal’s best interests when determining custody in separation or divorce hearings.

It points out in family law, animals are considered "things" rather than "sentient beings."

"Even though the Civil Code of Quebec has recognized animals as sentient beings with biological needs since 2015, in separation or divorce cases, they are subject to the same rules as movable property," the SPCA notes. "As a result, it’s the spouse who acquired the animal who is entitled to claim ownership at the time of separation or divorce. Courts do not take into account the animal’s interests or even their attachment to each partner."

According to the Institut de la Statistique du Québec (ISQ), about 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce, with the highest risk of break-up around the four-year mark.

In addition, Statistics Canada finds that one-third of divorces occur within the first seven years of marriage, while most barely make it past the 12-year mark.

By comparison, the SPCA points out most cats live around 15 years, while an average dog's life expectancy is 11 years.

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