Paws for thought – a ‘pet-nuptial’ agreement is the way forward

Man holds dog paw Couples can save themselves the unnecessary heartache of losing shared pets by arranging a 'pet-nuptial' agreement in case of future separation with their partner. 

For those going through a divorce, discussing what happens to shared pets after the split is undoubtedly one of the hardest things to do, and having a plan in place can really help. Pets are often just as important to people as children, but when it comes to custody of furry friends in the eyes of the law, there is currently no official legally binding measures in place for what happens to pets after a breakup. Legally a pet is seen as an asset, and as with any assets in a divorce, ownership will be decided by the court, however having a prearranged agreement in place commonly known as a prenuptial agreement, can assist the court to make a decision. To decide the future home of a pet during a divorce, couples can include a clause in a wider prenuptial agreement regarding ownership of an animal in the same way they can for material goods such as furniture or a TV.

Man holds small dog with partner in front of house Pre-nups are seen as a reflection of the parties' intentions regarding ownership of property and assets prior to marriage, and although they are not legally binding in the UK, they will be taken into consideration by the court in the event of a relationship breakdown. 
Despite pets being a big part of the family, animal charities such as The Blue Cross and Kennel Club both advise against joint custody of an animal as it can be unsettling and negatively affect the animal's wellbeing.
Splitting up animals who have lived together for a long time may also cause distress to animals so it's not advisable. It is suggested to appoint a primary caregiver of the animal upon adopting, with a pet-nup clause outlining who this will be and what the duty of care will entail. 

Emma Darley, family law executive at JMP Solicitors, said: "Pets are part of the family, so it is important to implement safeguarding in case of an eventual relationship breakdown to ensure you, your family and your pet are put through the least amount of distress possible. 
"Once divorce proceedings begin, the custody of the pet is in the hands of the court. They will look at a number of factors such as who can best meet the animal's needs, who has the most suitable home and what is best for the animal.

Lady sits and strokes her dog in the kitchen whilst partner drinks coffee "A pet-nup clause can have a significant impact on any decision the court is asked to make and sets out the intentions of the parties prior to marriage. It can outline custody agreements, as well as financial responsibilities such as veterinary and grooming bills. Whilst it is not officially binding, it is certainly an influential factor in deciding what happens to your pets. 
"When drafting the agreement, it's important to bear in mind what would be best for the animal – agreed primary owners must adhere to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and agree to be responsible for caring for the animal in all eventualities." 

To find out more about pet-nups and available family law services, please contact JMP Solicitors.

About JMP SolicitorsEstablished in 2000, JMP Solicitors is a Grantham-based multi-service law firm providing services for a diverse range of local and national clients from individuals, to companies and organisations.

 
How to incorporate the season into your wedding cake

How to incorporate the season into your wedding cake

By pairing your wedding with the natural beauty of the season, you'll be able to take advantage...

 
Get married at Foxtail Barns Wedding Venue

Get married at Foxtail Barns Wedding Venue

Set to open in 2021, Foxtail Barns Wedding Venue is a striking property with a rustic exterior and...

 
Turn your wedding photos into a piece of art

Turn your wedding photos into a piece of art

Founded by American artist Richard Williamson in 2002, creative agency McKay Williamson has redefined...

 
This romantic shoot has it all from fabulous dresses to adorable horses

This romantic shoot has it all from fabulous dresses to adorable horses

The idea for this shoot came from local photographer, Sara Cooper's love for...

Inspiration from our great team of Editors at County Wedding Magazines!

To help you find inspiration for your big day, take a look at what's caught the eye of our editors.

There are literally hundreds of ideas, products and services from wedding suppliers across the UK along with links to their web sites as pointed out by our ever resourceful team.

Take a look at what our Editors Love!