A prenuptial agreement can help avoid court battles over pets

Prenups are becoming more common for newly engaged couples that wish to safeguard the assets they are bringing into the marriage and to provide for the division of marital assets if the couple ends up getting a divorce. A prenuptial agreement could potentially eliminate the need for Alabama couples to spend a significant amount of time and money in the courts if their marriage ends. Many people are also beginning to use prenups to deal with one other item that the law considers property — the family pet.

People can spend thousands of dollars attempting to gain “custody” of the family pet, which can be problematic due to the fact that only Alabama’s property division laws apply in the courtroom. Who receives the family pet in a divorce is not argued or decided in the same manner as child custody issues. Who is the most fit to take care of the pet or whom the pet likes better are not concerns to the court — regardless of the fact that many people consider their pets to be part of the family.

In an amicable divorce, the parties may be able to negotiate their own plan for custody, visitation and the sharing of expenses. The agreement is then presented to the court as part of the overall settlement for approval. In the alternative, the parties can deal with the issue in a prenuptial agreement during a time when they are more amenable.

How a couple decides to handle their custody issues regarding pets is varied, so long as the provisions do not violate public policy or the law. Dealing with the issue in a prenuptial agreement can put both parties on notice of what will occur in the event of a divorce. Not only will this be one less issue for the parties to take to court, but neither party will expend valuable time and resources during a time when emotions are naturally running high.

Source: CBS Boston, “Many Couples Signing ‘Pup Nups’ To Prevent Future Legal Battles“, Kathryn Hauser, Nov. 24, 2014