Many couples across the state who choose to wait to have children or decide not to have children at all make a significant financial and emotional investment in their “fur babies” — and this trend is nationwide, not just here in Texas. Their pets are their children and that does not change even if they do end up having kids at some point. For this reason, individuals about to be married are increasingly using a prenuptial agreement to address what happens to the family pet should a divorce occur.
It just might surprise some Texas residents how many divorce cases turn ugly when it comes to determining the fate of the family pet. Couples can spend thousands of dollars and a significant amount of time in court over this issue. In fact, Direct Line Pet Insurance estimates that up to 30,000 divorces across the country that end up in court have something to do with the family pet.
Prenuptial agreements address the division of property and identifying each party’s separate property as of the date of the marriage. If one party brings a pet to the marriage, it might be a good idea to put that fact in writing since both parties can quickly become attached to the pet and the lines of ownership could get blurred as the years pass. Addressing any future pets could be as simple as agreeing in writing that whichever parent receives primary physical custody of the children also gets to keep the pets.
Whatever type of arrangement a couple wants to make with regard to the family pet, it would be wise to outline that agreement in a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage. At the same time, the parties can protect their separate property and agree on the division of any marital property in order to reduce any possible conflict during a divorce. A prenup must meet certain legal requirements in order to remain enforceable, so it working with an experienced attorney would improve the chances of avoiding an unnecessary court battle in the event of a divorce.