November 28, 2019

Why ‘pet nups’ are helping to prevent tails of woe in divorce

Our nation’s love of dogs has unleashed an increase in the number of couples seeking a ‘pet-nup’ – the pet equivalent of a pre-nup agreement – to establish who keeps the canine if their relationship falls apart.     

The dog-tug-of-war scenario has seen pooches including Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Yorkshire terriers and Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong’s Labrador catapulted into the media limelight while their owners are locked in bitter divorce battles.    

The prevalence of such cases has resulted in the Law Society recommending that canine custody issues be included in pre-nuptial agreements for peace of mind. 

In divorce and separation, more responsible pet owners are making provision for their pet’s future – in the same way as couples who split up plan for their children’s well being.

In situations involving children, we advise pets stay with them as they can be instrumental in helping children come to terms with their parents’ break up – providing unconditional love, security and an anchor through difficult times.

In cases where there are no children, such as those highlighted above, a pet-nup can be included in a pre-nup or post-nup agreement to establish clarity of ownership if the relationship disintegrates. Here are some points to consider:

  1. A pet nup will include key issues such as who takes care of the pet’s daily needs – feeding, walking, grooming veterinary care in the event of a break up
  2. Although not legally binding a pet-nup, like a pre-nup and post nup, will help the judge decide who will have permanent care of the canine  
  3. Courts will take into consideration who owned the pet in the first instance
  4. However attached you are to your pet; the law ultimately regards them as goods and chattels    
  5. If ownership of a pet is being transferred, aim to keep their routine as close to normal as possible as animals can also be emotionally and psychologically affected by divorce and separation

For more information on pre-nup and post-nup agreements visit this section of our website.  

To find out more about any aspect of family law, call our Leeds office on 0113 246 0055, our Harrogate office on 01423 276104, or our York office on 01904 202550. You can also visit, email or tweet us @helpwithdivorce