Insights and inspiration
A Dog or Furniture?
07 April 2014
This is the tale of a dog that turned out to be furniture, with some French polish added.
A couple entered into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in Australia. The Pre-Nuptial Agreement provided that neither party would have any financial obligations to the other, each would keep his and her own property, neither would have any spouse maintenance obligations, and importantly, that Australian law would be the law to be used if there was ever any dispute.
The couple then went to live in France with their dog Harvey. Things didn't go well. The marriage broke down and the husband applied to the French Court for permission to remain in the matrimonial home, and for spouse maintenance to be paid to him (and for custody of the dog).
The wife said that the French Court had no business dealing with any of this because the parties had agreed that Australia would be the place where any case should be brought and Australian law would be used to make any decision.
The French Court agreed with the wife and refused to deal with the case except in relation to Harvey the dog.
The Judge in the French Court said: "The dog should be considered as a piece of furniture". This, as it happens, is also the Austrlaian position. The dog is a chattel, not a child. What the Judge decided, despite the fact that she was not supposed to be dealing with the case, was that the husband would have the dog during the week and the wife on the weekends.
An odd way to treat furniture.
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