Family & Divorce

Have you got a pet nup in place?

If you are in a marriage or relationship and own a pet together, have you ever discussed what will happen if you decide to part ways?

03 May 2023

Team name
Callie Nimki

Callie Nimki

While, at the moment, you might not see the need to draw up such an arrangement to cover such an eventuality, unfortunately, things can 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, is an agreement between two people who own a pet together. It outlines how they will handle the care and ownership of the pet should they decide to part ways. It is an important document to consider when in a relationship where there is a pet, as it can prevent a lot of heartbreak and stress if a couple decides to separate.

What happens to pets in separation proceedings?

When a couple decides to separate, the ownership of the pet is typically based on who purchased the pet and who has been the primary carer.  This can be complicated and confusing, leading to drawn-out court proceedings and a potential tug-of-war over the pet. With a pet nup, the ownership of the pet is specified, so there is no need to go to Court.

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 divorce and 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.

​Canapetbeincludedinastandardpre-nuptialagreement?

​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 over the care of the pet and make pet custody after divorce clear.

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.

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

M&P Commentary

Callie Nimki, a Trainee Solicitor, said:

“Considering a pet nup is a great opportunity to discuss how the pet will be handled in the event of a separation and to put the necessary measures in place to protect the pet and both parties. Having this agreement drawn up can help save time and stress in the long run for all involved.”

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