An estimated 3.2 million UK households have acquired a pet since the first lockdown in March of last year according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association.  We are a nation of dog lovers.  Increasingly in these uncertain and worrying times we have turned to our pets.  Many of us have been isolated from friends, family and work colleagues for months on end.  Our ever-faithful pets have become our companions.

In particular, the demand for dogs since last year has led to prices sky rocketing. A pedigree can quite easily cost £3,000 to £5,000.

Have you ever given any thought as to what might happen to your beloved pet if you and your partner were to separate?

Sadly, the Courts will not deal with pets in the same way as children.   A Child Arrangements Order allows a judge to set out where a child is to live and who they can spend time with.  However, a pet does not have any legal status.  A pet is basically treated like a chattel – to be divided up with the car and the flat screen TV.  Even before Covid there had been a few high-profile celebrity splits where the couples disagreed as to with whom the dog should live, resulting in hugely expensive court proceedings.   Such proceedings can be emotionally and financially distressing.

Some family lawyers are now offering pet-nup agreements (a play on pre-nup agreements).  Couples are being encouraged to think about what would happen to their much loved cat or dog if they were to separate.  A pet-nup agreement can set out where your pet is to live if you were to separate, how often they can see the other party, vet insurance, the purchase of food etc.

Like pre nup agreements (for couples who plan to marry) and living together agreements (for cohabiting couples), whilst not automatically legally binding, the judge will more than likely respect the decision of the parties provided that the agreement is properly drafted and both have entered into the agreement freely and without any pressure being placed upon them.

Blythe Liggins is happy to provide such a service.  If you would like to discuss preparing a pet-nup agreement please do not hesitate to contact me on 01926 831231 or email ls@blytheliggins.co.uk.

CAPTION: Louise Sheasby, Chartered Legal Executive, Matrimonial Department

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