Pets will be treated like the rest of the family members in case of divorce and no one can seize them even if their owner is a defaulter. The Congress will take tonight the first step so that the Spanish civil and commercial legislation, which regulates personal and commercial relationships, stops treating domestic animals as simple things, without any legal difference with a ficus or a stool. Until now, for the Civil Code, they are nothing more than movable property, easily transferable properties.
The plenary session of the Lower House, at the proposal of the PSOE and with the sole rejection of Vox, will agree today to initiate a legal reform that, when completed in a month, will cause domestic animals to be considered, for all purposes, « living beings endowed with sensitivity ”, to which rights will be granted and whose owners will have the obligation to attend to their well-being, avoid mistreatment, abandonment, or the provocation of a cruel and unnecessary death.
It is a proposal of law almost identical to another that Congress began to process more than three years ago at the proposal of the PP, and that did not reach the BOE only because of the dissolution of Parliament with the electoral advance of 2019. Only Vox broke the consensus with a resounding ‘no’ for considering it “a folly” and “a proposition of law made by real animals.” “They are always late, but they will end up accepting it,” the socialist Sandra Guaita replied. “It was also difficult for his political great-great-grandparents to accept that people of another color were not merchandise; to their grandparents, that workers have rights; and to their in-laws, that women were not mere vases, “he added.
Only Vox broke the consensus and snapped to the rest of the deputies that “this bill is made by real animals”
The reform, which will change 26 articles of the Civil Code, one of the Mortgage Law and another of the Civil Procedure Law, alters the legal nature of all domestic animals, which will cease to be things, and guarantees the protection of the approximately 16 million of pets that live with Spanish families. No domestic cat will be able to be treated by spouses or judges as a refrigerator during a marital breakdown, nor will any dog end up in a warehouse after an attachment to its owner.
One more of the family
One of the fundamental changes of the reform is the one that seeks to treat companion animals practically as one of the family. In fact, 40% of households have a pet. It envisages modifying articles 90, 91, 94 and 103 of the Civil Code, which say how the judicial agreement that regulates a separation, divorce or annulment should be, to force the judge not only to determine the conditions in which the children and the properties of the couple, or pensions to be paid, but also to determine in detail the fate of family pets.
At present, with the law in hand, the animal had no rights whatsoever. He was exposed to be one more element in the possible blackmail of a couple during the breakup and the courts had no obligation to pay him more attention than to the fate of the family car.
The reform, however, obliges the judge to establish the care and custody of the animal, which may fall to one of the spouses or be shared, and to detail “a distribution of the times of coexistence and care” -a visitation regime- if It believes it necessary, as well as to specify the precautionary measures that it considers necessary so that each party can comply with the provisions of the agreement, including maintenance.
The text, which will now go to the amendment phase, even tells the judge what his criteria should be that should guide him when designing the future of the pet. It will do so, he points out in each of the amended articles, “taking into account the interest of family members and the welfare of the animal.”
The new law also seeks to protect the pet from the family’s financial commitments and maneuvers. On the one hand, it modifies the civil procedure law to declare among the assets that it considers “not at all unattachable” to respond to the debts of its owners to pets. The legislator takes this measure, indicates in the text, “in view of the special bond of affection that links pets with the family with which they live.”
In search of similar protection, article 111 of the mortgage law also changes. The planned modification says that, “except by express agreement”, mortgages may not include among the assets that serve as collateral the domestic animals of a livestock, industrial or leisure operation. What it prohibits in any case is that mortgages are extended to pets.
The modifications of the Civil Code also regulate how to act before the discovery of a domestic animal. As a general rule, it says that you must return it to its owner, by your own means or through the authorities, and that you have the right to claim the expenses generated. But it also indicates that you can keep it, until the authority decides on the matter, if you have well-founded suspicions of mistreatment or abandonment of the animal.
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