How about a ‘pet-nup’ this Valentine’s day?

Despite love in the air this Valentine’s Day month, the Law Society is urging couples to get a pre-nup agreement for their pets.  Legal experts say Valentines sweethearts should prepare for the worst, or risk losing their pets to a disgruntled partner.

1 in 4 divorces involves a dispute over pets

Although pets usually bring a smile to our faces, they’re at the centre of fallouts when couples go through a divorce. And quite rightly – pets are like a part of the family, so we need to plan for their welfare.

Pet-nups are growing in popularity for this very reason.

Pet charity, Blue Cross, says pets are often brought to their re-homing centres following a split. They report that one partner will even bring a pet for re-homing without the other’s knowledge.

The charity’s research revealed that dogs and cats are the most fought over pets, closely followed by horses, rabbits and guinea pigs.

With this in mind, Valentine’s Day sweethearts, who plan to marry or live together, should arrange a pet-nup right away.

Gill Graveson, Partner and Family Law specialist at Birchall Blackburn, explains:

“Pet-nups may sound quirky but they’re actually very necessary. I see too many couples fighting over ‘who gets the pets’. And you can understand that – we all grow attached to our pets and wouldn’t agree to them being taken away.”

How to protect your pet and avoid disputes

Take a practical approach. Even if you never have to use it, having a pre-nup in place not only protects your pets but your assets and livelihood, too.

While it may not feel like the most romantic conversation, you still need to set-out what will happen to your pet if the relationship ends. This might include things like ‘custody,’ responsibility and upkeep costs.

Most importantly, work with a solicitor to make sure your plan is legally sound. They’ll be able to guide you by asking the right questions (in case there are things you’ve not thought about).

Gill continues:

“People used to think a pre-nup was overkill if they weren’t multi-millionaires. But it’s just not the case anymore. They now realise that making sure you know where you stand from the beginning means peace of mind and less heartache if you separate.

“Not only that but coming to an agreement about emotional decisions, like pets, is much easier while you’re on good terms.”

Indeed, pets can be a huge part of our homes – agreeing on their future can make a difficult situation easier. Pet-nups and pre-nups mean it’s clear from the start who gets the pets, so they don’t end up in re-homing centres, or dragged though the courts.

If you’d like to discuss a pre-nup, contact our Family Law team for friendly advice. They’re understanding and use their expertise to guide you through the process. You have our full support, every step of the way.