A prenup for a pet? Why? Because you love your pet. We know you do. Whether it be a dog, a cat or even a horse, they aren’t just a piece of property you have to walk and feed. They bring joy, comfort and friendship; the deep bond you form with your pet makes them an integral part of your family.
Now imagine bringing a pet into a new relationship or deciding to adopt a pet after getting married. Both you and your significant other no doubt love the animal as much as you love one another. In some cases, your pets become your children.
But then things take a turn for the worse. Arguments get heightened and you just want out of the relationship. As your lawyers begin to divide your property, your pet becomes a bargaining chip. Your significant other fights tooth and nail to keep the animal, while you refuse to give it up. Like your once brand-new couch, your hope for an amicable divorce is ripped to shreds.
In recent years, custody battles over pets, especially with the millennial generation, is on the rise, as they choose to have pets over kids. This is why more and more couples are gravitating toward a prenup prior to the adoption of their new family member, so that they may avoid similar scenarios.
A pet prenup can help decide who in the relationship will care and feed for the animal, pay for insurance and medical bills, take them to the veterinarian, and ultimately who would retain the pet in the event of a breakup or divorce.
In most states, pets are still treated as property, making the prenup an iron-clad statement of ownership. However, California recently passed Assembly Bill 2274, which differentiates companion animals and pets from all other types of assets and allows the courts to judge the merits of ownership on the health and well-being of the animal, even with a prenup in place.
Without a prenup in place, if your name is on the adoption documents, the animal is considered yours. However, if your spouse is the sole caretaker of the animal, the judge could conclude that the animal would be better suited to live with them. Having a prenup in place would help you better fight for the rights of the animal.
Pet prenups may also include shared custody arrangements, which outline what custody would look like in the event of a divorce. If you have children, a shared custody arrangement would generally follow the child’s, giving comfort and stability to both the child and the pet. If you don’t have kids, custody arrangements are better when agreed upon prior to taking on the responsibility of pet ownership.
Best of all, having a pet prenup can give you piece of mind and a healthier relationship with both your significant other and your pet. And isn’t that what we all really want?