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Warring couples fight like cats and dogs over who gets the pets

31st May 2011 Print

A fifth (20%) of separating couples with pets have fought for custody of their animal when their relationship failed, according to research by The Co-operative Pet Insurance.

The survey has shown that pets have cemented their role as a key member of the modern family. Traditionally, separating couples have argued about the division of possessions such as TVs and cars. However, with 20% of warring couples seeking legal advice to try to keep custody of their pet and 10% even going through professional mediation the break up process has evolved somewhat.

The possible separation from the family pet has, for the majority of couples, made the break up process even more difficult, and the survey has revealed that one in ten (10%) people even felt that losing ownership of their pet was actually worse than breaking up with their partner in the first place.

One in 10 people admitted to feeling depressed about the situation whilst a further 10% were left broken hearted. And it is not only ordinary people who are affected by pet custody battles with many celebrities, such as Cheryl and Ashley Cole, using the courts to keep hold of their beloved pet.

The research shows that in over half of break up cases both parties wanted to keep the pet (56%).Whilst, on the other hand, in one in 10 cases arguments were caused because neither party wanted to keep the pet.

After separation, nearly a quarter (22%) of those people surveyed who lost custody of their pet still see their furry companion whilst one in five (20%) couples actually agreed a joint custody arrangement between themselves.

Lee Mooney, Head of Pet Insurance at The Co-operative Insurance, said: "Where possessions such as TVs used to dominate divorce proceedings, the custody of the family pet is now one of the subjects that causes the most upset and arguments for separating couples.

"For many couples, the family pet is treated as an additional member of the family and as such custody battles are now starting to mirror the ones that couples go through when they are deciding custody of their children with lawyers and mediators becoming involved.

"Perhaps in time we will see pet pre-nups being drawn up between couples before they buy a pet or move in together to reduce the risk of lawyers being called in further down the line.

"If nothing else, this survey shows the continued importance pets have on family life."

The survey has also shown just how much a positive impact pets can have on strained relationships with half of the 20% of couples who got back together following separation revealing that they did so because of their pet as it was a joint interest (60%), because the pet got ill and forced the warring couple to talk (26%) or even because the pet died which led to the couple sorting out their differences (12%).

The Co-operative Pet Insurance is available online at where it can be purchased at 15% discount.