As a nation, we love our pets, and with more than half of households in the UK owning at least one pet, pets are a huge part of our lives for many of us.
If you are in a relationship and you own a pet together, have you ever discussed what will happen if you decide to part ways? Whilst you might not see the need to draw up such an arrangement right now, you may wish to consider it before things change. In this article, we look at why it might be worthwhile considering a ‘pet nup’.
What is a pet nup?
A pet nup, also known as a pet prenup (pre-nuptial), is an agreement between two people who own a pet together. It outlines how, as a couple, you will handle the care and ownership of your pet should you decide to part ways. Having a prenuptial agreement can prevent a lot of heartbreak and stress if you decide to separate.
What happens to pets in separation proceedings?
If you decide to separate from your partner, the ownership of your pet is typically based on who purchased it and who has been the primary carer. This can be complicated and confusing, leading to potentially drawn-out court proceedings and can lead to a tug-of-war battle over your pet. A pet nup specifies who owns the pet so that there is no need to go to Court should you split.
Is a pet nup legally binding?
A pet nup is not a legally binding document. However, as with pre- and post-nuptial agreements, they are being increasingly recognised during separation proceedings and given more consideration by the Court. It can make it easier for a judge to determine what will happen to the family pet.
Can a pet be included in a standard pre-nuptial agreement?
Yes, as a pet is considered property under the law, a clause can be included in a standard pre-nuptial agreement to help prevent future disagreements in respect of the care of your pet and can make custody after a separation or divorce much clearer.
Why should I consider getting a pet nup?
A pet nup is beneficial for both pet owners and pets. It ensures that both parties understand their rights and responsibilities regarding the pet, and it can help prevent disputes and court proceedings if you and your partner decide to part ways.
Advantages of having a pet nup agreement in place
Even if you think you might never need to use it, there are several advantages to drawing a pet nup agreement with your partner, as it can:
- Specify who is the primary owner of the pet
- Establish who will be responsible for the pet’s care and expenses
- Establish visiting rights, if desired
- Prevent disputes and court proceedings if you separate
- Protect both parties and the pet from potential legal and financial issues
A pet nup is a great opportunity to discuss how your pet will be handled in the event of a separation and it will help you both to put the necessary measures in place to protect your pet and each other and can save both you and your partner potential stress in the future.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.