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A prenup can deal with pet-related issues in a divorce

Times have changed, and many couples in California choose to get married later and also start their families when they are well established and financially ready to care for children. At the same time, many prefer to get a pet in their early years of marriage, or even before they get married. It is also true that many people become so attached to their pets that they treat them like they would treat their children, and in the event of a divorce, the same battles can ensue as those about child custody.

The law has always treated pets as property -- regardless of whether it is a dog, cat, goldfish or another exotic animal. During the property division process, the judge would handle any pet-related issues. However, bitter fights have ensued in the past, and more and more judges are looking at pet custody in a different light.

One way to handle this issue in a manner that would be fair to all is to address pet custody in a prenuptial agreement. Many couples resort to this solution and stipulate with whom the pet will live after a divorce. Furthermore, they specify how the food and veterinarian bills would be split. They also work out a visitation plan, and many divorced couples agree to co-parent their pets.

Including these arrangements in a prenuptial agreement would not only give the pet owners peace of mind, but it would also avoid having a judge decide who will get the pet in the event of a divorce. This is but one of the matters with which California couples can deal with in a prenuptial agreement. An experienced divorce attorney can answer questions about this and also help with the drafting of such a document in a manner that will comply with state and federal laws.

Source:, "Pet Prenups: Who gets the pet?", Ayla Ferrone, Nov. 16, 2017

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