Pets become legal members of the familyPhoto: Shutterstock.com/SvetikovaV
According to a new law introduced by the ruling leftist PSOE, it is the responsibility of owners to ensure the welfare of the animal “according to the characteristics of each species.”
The measures taken by the judge during the divorce will be dictated not only by the changing situation of the spouses and the needs of the children, but also by the “new needs of the companion animals.” In addition, the court will take into account the share of the couple in the costs of keeping and caring for the animal, the time spent with it, and in case of disagreement between the couple, “will decide its fate, taking into account both.” the interests of the divorced couple and the welfare of the animal. ”
According to the reform of the Civil Code, judges will decide to keep minors, including their parents. in terms of the treatment of pets and the court may, for example, refuse joint custody of the children of a spouse who has previously been convicted of animal abuse. The regulations state that violence against animals can be used in the family environment as a form of psychological violence and indirect violence against both minors and partners.
Animals at will
Pets can also be included in the will. In the event of the death of one of the owners, if he does not make a final will, the court will always decide the fate of the animal, guided by its welfare.
Under the reform of the mortgage law, cattle, farm or recreational animals cannot be pledged, and under the new civil procedure law, animals cannot be taken as payment to their owners.
When a pet is injured “resulting in death or serious impairment of physical or mental health,” owners and those living with the pet also have the right to claim moral damages.
Criticism of the Right People’s Party
The opposition right-wing People’s Party (PP) has criticized the new bill as equating the welfare of pets with the well-being of other family members, including children. “This is an animal ideology that Vox does not share,” said Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia, a right-wing populist lawmaker.
The reform of animals as sentient beings has caused more and more controversy during its development. There are numerous comments and comments on the new law on Spanish social networks.
Law in other countries
In Portugal, as in Spain, animals are not “things” but “living beings with senses.” Already in 2017, the country’s authorities approved an amendment to the Civil Code, so judges must include pets in divorce, inheritance and child care. The law also provides special rules for the living conditions of Portuguese pets. According to them, the number of pets allowed in one apartment should not exceed three adult dogs or four adult cats. The maximum number of adult dogs and cats can be six, but a positive decision must be made by the municipal veterinarian and local authorities.
The civil codes of European countries contain provisions specifically related to the legal status of animals. For example, Art. Article 90a of the German Civil Code states that “animals are not objects, they are protected by special rights”, but “unless otherwise provided, they are subject to the provisions of the object.”
There are similar provisions in the laws of Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Similarly, Poland recognizes in Article 1 of the Animal Protection Act that “there is no such thing as an animal suffering.”
Animals in Sweden “movable goods”
Pets have “real estate” status under the Swedish Civil Code. Therefore, in case of divorce, they are treated like other valuables. There are cases when spouses voluntarily agree to alternative care for a pet.
In the UK, there is the Sentient Assets Act, which sets up the Animal Sense Committee to advise on future animal welfare legislation. Importantly, animals include not only vertebrates, but also cephalopods (eg, octopus, squid) and some crustaceans (eg, crustaceans, lobsters, shrimp, crustaceans).
The laws of many countries still accept that animals are objects or property, including. In the United States and Australia.