When you get married, you obviously never expect to get a divorce. And when you do divorce, there are a million things that you have to take care of. Often times it’s the kids or the money, but what about the dog? Both parties are usually going to want to keep the pup for themselves as they have grown to love it like a family member. This is where the pet prenup comes into play. Take a look at the article below to find out more about the pet prenup!
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Who gets the dog in the divorce? Enter the pet prenup.
By ALEXANDRA ANASTASIO via GMA
Have a conversation with a dog lover and you’ll quickly figure out that their pup is an integral part of the family. The bond is a tight one and the thought of being separated is incomprehensible. So what happens when “pet parents” decide to split?
Breakups are never pleasant and often times downright messy, especially when it comes to the division of assets. Who gets the family pet has become such a hot topic that couples are including the issue in prenups.
When Elizabeth and her now ex-husband split, their dog’s well-being became an issue. Both parties loved the dog and neither wanted to give him up.
“Throughout the divorce my ex used our dog to hurt me,” Elizabeth, who asked that only her first name be used, said. “He was willing to drag things out as long as possible and would only settle if I gave up the dog.”
It’s not uncommon to hear one party using the dog as more of a bargaining tool to get what they want, according to Mitchell B. Gordon, a Chicago-based attorney with Bradford & Gordon, Inc. He points out that a lot of times it’s not the pet that couples are really fighting over.
“One partner knows the emotions the other has [for] the pet and uses it against them in the divorce,” Gordon explained.
In Elizabeth’s case, she said her ex-husband wore her down and she ultimately relinquished her rights. As a result of the experience, she included the dog she shares with her new husband in a prenup. Instructions on care and custody, along with a designated veterinarian to make any medical related decisions should they be unable to agree, were hashed out in the legal document.
Putting these types of provisions in writing not only provides peace of mind, it eliminates an issue to fight over later.
Karin Lundell, a partner at the firm Rower LLC in New York City, believes prenups are on the rise. People marrying for the second time want to protect what they’ve already acquired while younger couples who don’t have substantial assets but anticipate that they will in the future want to be protected as well, she said.
Gordon said his firm has seen an increase in the number of clients seeking prenups and they aren’t necessarily coming from exceedingly wealthy backgrounds.
“The main type of client seeking prenups is couples who are marrying when they’re older, who are likely to have worked longer, and have more assets that they wish to protect,” he said.
The firm is also seeing younger couples who either have a good amount of student debt and neither one wants to be saddled with the other’s loans, or there is pressure by their families to have a prenup.
How courts see dogs in divorce proceedings
And while dog owners will tell you their pup is a member of the family, the courts tend to think otherwise. The law, although antiquated, dates back hundreds of years and views pets as personal property, just like the contents in your home, even though the way in which people relate to their animals has evolved.
In most cases it comes down to which partner’s name is on the paperwork when purchasing or adopting the dog, Regina DeMao, an attorney in the Washington, D.C., and Maryland area, said.
“Title is important,” said DeMao. “With certain joint property you can sell it and split the proceeds. But with a pet you can’t do that.”
Some states are looking at pets as more than just property. Starting Jan. 1, California will ensure a pet is taken care of while divorce proceedings are underway.
Similar laws have been enacted in Illinois and Alaska. Judges in these states have the power to take into account the well-being of the animal.
Read more on ABC News
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