Getting Married? Don’t Forget The Pet Prenup

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Prenups are a popular, and practical, means of protecting kids and assets, but a growing number of pet owners are throwing the family dog (or cat) into the document, too.

According to ABC News, more and more pet-owners — especially millennials, many of whom are marrying later and remain children of divorce themselves — consider pet pre-nuptials pretty much essential to a modern union.

Just like with real babies, these legally binding documents can layout plans for sole/joint custody arrangement, parental support, veterinary care, and even offer roadmaps in case of medical crisis. Some arrangements even call for kids and pets to move between recently-divided households together, allowing both to draw strength and support from their emotional bond.

Attorneys report a growing trend in pet prenups over the years, as increasing numbers of clients recognize the value in planning ahead. Pet prenups can offer conscientious pet owners important peace of mind, and can help avoid future showdowns. Attorneys also find pet prenups a useful means of protecting clients from manipulative former spouses determined to exploit their client’s emotional attachment to the family pet for financial gain.

While dogs and cats are still considered property in most states, some have finally come to recognize the family fur-baby as an actual part of the family. In 2017, Alaska and Illinois became the first states to consider the animal’s welfare in case of disputes. A similar law will take effect in California on January 1. This means the judge can decide which parent can best care for the pet, which also makes a pet prenup the best way to avoid a protracted legal battle.

Signing a pet prenup doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed, only that both partners have calmly considered what happens to Fluffy and Fido in case of storm clouds up ahead. Regardless, it’s certainly heartening to see states start to legally recognize pets as part of the family. Our fur-babies are finally getting the protection they deserve!

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J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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