Family law reform :

Let’s not leave animals behind!

The Government of Québec Is Reforming Family Law
Let’s Not Leave Animals Behind!

Ask that animals’ interests be taken into account in the event of a separation or divorce.

Most Quebecers consider their companion animals to be full-fledged family members. However, animals are currently subject to the same rules that apply to property under Quebec family law. When a couple with an animal separates and there’s a disagreement about who should keep the animal, courts rule on this issue without taking into account the animal’s interests or even the animal’s attachment to the other spouse. 

Several jurisdictions, including Switzerland, Spain, nearly a dozen US states and, most recently, the province of British Columbia, have passed laws requiring courts to consider the interests of animals when ruling on their custody in the event of separation or divorce. This is not yet the case in Quebec.

Send this letter addressed to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Quebec, Simon Jolin-Barrette, asking him to make the necessary changes to the Civil Code as part of the family law reform currently underway.

Until the law changes, the Montreal SPCA is making available for free download a contract that allows couples to decide in advance how the custody of their animal will be determined in the event of separation.

In the event of separation or divorce, animals are, by default, subject to the same rules as movable property. In the event of a dispute over custody, it is therefore the spouse who acquired (purchased or adopted) the animal who is entitled to claim ownership. When ruling on animal custody during a separation or divorce, courts do not consider the animal’s best interests or even their degree of attachment to each spouse. Sign our petition to update our laws!

In 2015, the National Assembly of Québec unanimously passed the Act to Improve the Legal Status of Animals, which amended the Civil Code of Québec to recognize that “animals are not things” but rather “sentient beings” with “biological needs.” Despite this reform, in family law matters, animals continue to be subject to the same rules that apply to movable property. Sign our letter to help remedy this inconsistency and ensure animals’ custody is decided based on their best interests as sentient beings!