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We are a nation of pet lovers and, according to PDSA, 52% of UK adults are pet owners in 2022. There’s more than 21 million pet dogs and cats in the UK – so what would happen to these pets if their owners got divorced or separated? With around 30,000 divorce cases involving animals each year, according to a report from Direct Line Pet Insurance, many separating couples are finding themselves disagreeing over who should keep their pet. Getting divorced can be very stressful and worries over pet ownership will only make this worse.

What are pet-nups and how can they help you

Unlike with children, where a judge has the powers to make a child arrangements order setting out who a child will live and spend time with, nothing currently exists for pets – it’s up to the separating couple to agree plans. When deciding who gets the couple’s pet, there are often disputes, as pets are seen as family members or ‘children’ by many couples – leading to costly and emotionally distressing court battles. Luckily, some careful planning can help to alleviate this worry, and this is where pet-nups come in.

Pet-nups are a type of pre-nup agreement that detail what would happen to your much cherished pet in the event of a divorce or separation. If you are already entering a pre-nup agreement (before you get married), a reference can be made to your pet within this. Otherwise, you can get a pet-nup written up at the start of your relationship, or when you get your pet, to avoid any disputes if your relationship breaks down in the future.

What to consider when getting a pet-nup

Before preparing your pet-nup you should consider who paid for your pet, if you have proof of ownership, how you would split significant financial commitments in the future, and what living arrangements would best suit the wellbeing of your pet. This will help you to make the important decisions of who your pet will live with, when the other person can see them, what will happen if one party relocates, and how the cost of pet food, pet insurance and veterinary bills will be distributed.

Having a pet-nup will give you peace of mind knowing that your pet’s future is secure should your relationship breakdown and avoid any emotional disputes. It will allow you to enjoy your beloved pet’s companionship for as long as possible, free from worry.

Debenhams Ottaway’s award winning family team has the expertise to help you with the preparation of pet-nup agreements as well as pre-nup and cohabitation agreements. For further advice, contact family law and divorce lawyer Annabel Andreou at Debenhams Ottaway on 01727 229312 or email afa@debenhamsottaway.co.uk



The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.