There are times when contracts are signed prior to marriage that decide what takes place if a divorce should happen. They are known as prenuptial agreements and they used to be common among celebrities but today, more people are signing on the dotted line.
Many people recognize the fact that marriages are breaking up more and more frequently. As a result, more couples are having the forethought to make such an arrangement in case the marriage dissolves. It makes things easier if it happens.
What might surprise you is that people are now including their pets in the contracts, including dogs, cats, and other animals.
According to legal experts, the number of couples who are including pets in the prenuptial agreement is on the rise. There are even free versions online that can be downloaded and filled out to help sort out that important matter if the need arises.
“The dog or the cat or the family pet becomes like a child,” attorney Eric Meredith said.
“With that, comes the emotional turmoil of when there is a divorce or separation of who takes the dog.”
These types of prenups that plan out who is going to be keeping the pet or any future pet that is brought into the relationship are a popular way to limit some stress associated with divorce.
When you stop to think about it, it really does make sense. These young couples are bringing their lives together, including any animals before they are settling down and having children.
Any arguments over who is going to keep the animal after a divorce can only serve to make things more difficult.
Some people who have gone through a divorce found that their former spouses threatened to take the pet away as a bargaining chip during the proceedings.
This included a case that made headlines in 2014. The feuding couple in New York were able to stand before the judge and argue for the custody of their dogs. They eventually settled out of court.
If you are already in a relationship and didn’t sign a contract involving the pet, you may be concerned that your partner could take them away. In that instance, there may be some things you can do to increase the odds that you will win in his custody dispute.
Meredith says that one important factor is who took care of the pets. This would include buying them supplies, taking them to the veterinarian and paying for the vet bill. They would be more likely to gain custody of the animal if those factors could be proven in court.
Another important factor is having the paperwork filled out to show you are the legal owner.
The law actually considers an animal to be a piece of property if a prenup is not filled out in advance. Having your name on the paperwork provides positive proof that you are the ‘owner’.
Meredith still provides the following warning: “You’re gonna have to deal with it in litigation.”
Each state has their own divorce laws and some of them are starting to include pets as part of the divorce proceeding in a different way. In California, couples will soon be able to argue over ownership of dogs and Illinois and Alaska will likely follow in their footsteps.
Perhaps one of the most progressive states is New York. Their view on pet custody allows judges to account for “what’s best for all.” That would include the animals in the relationship.
It is likely that other states will eventually catch up but for now, signing a prenuptial agreement to protect the ownership of the pets is the best way to go.