Pet Nups: What are they and how will my pets be dealt with upon separation or divorce?
If your relationship or marriage unfortunately breaks down, aside from dealing with arrangements for any children, dealing with the pets of the relationship can be one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging aspects. 59% of UK households own pets and so deciding who ‘keeps’ pets upon separation is a fairly common issue, however, it is not one that the Court likes to become involved in.
What is the approach of the Court?
Pets are of course a much-loved member of any family; however, they are regarded by the Court simply as a ‘personal possession’. The Court will consider who purchased the pet, or whether it was gifted, and who has taken command of the day-to-day care of the pet by way of food, insurance, vet bills etc.
The Court will encourage separating couples to make arrangements for any pets between themselves. One party can have sole care of any pet, or it may be agreed that both parties have ‘shared care’ of a pet, with dates and times agreed for contact.
What is a Pet Nup and do I need one?
In order to avoid disputes as to contact and care arrangements for a pet upon separation, couples are now choosing to enter into a Pet Nup. This is an agreement between the parties, which states what will happen to any pet should they separate.
This does not just include cats and dogs. A Pet Nup can be prepared for any animals of a relationship.
A Pet Nup is not fully legally binding; however, it records the intentions of the parties should any dispute arise.
Is there an alternative to a Pet Nup?
If you and your partner are moving in together or getting married, it is likely that there are other matters to be dealt with alongside pets, such as financial matters.
Provisions with regards to any pets could be included within a Cohabitation Agreement//Living Together Agreement or Pre-Nuptial Agreement. Having such Agreements in place would then assist in reducing any areas of dispute, should you and your partner separate.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of Pet Nups, Pre-Nuptial Agreements or Cohabitation Agreements/Living Together Agreements, please do not hesitate to contact our family department who will be pleased to assist you.