For many pet owners, dogs and cats are not just animals -- they are family. In situations similar to custody disputes over human children, some divorcing couples end up fighting over who will get custody of the family pet. As pets are considered property in a divorce, some New York couples may want to consider taking steps to make sure their pooch is protected should a relationship end.
Like fighting over other assets, battling over a pet can get expensive. One woman recently shelled out $8,000 to get custody of her dog after a divorce, while another woman spent $30,000 in the fight for her pet. With the rise of battles over pet custody in courts that consider Fluffy and Fido to be property, some couples are choosing to make pet custody predetermined through a prenuptial agreement.
Appropriately, some people refer to the agreement as a 'pup-nup' when it involves pet custody. Some people even choose to determine who will ultimately have a pet after a potential divorce before they even bring the pet home. Without this type of arrangement in place, the courts may have little choice other than to award custody of the pet to the person who initially paid for or adopted the animal.
Many people in New York may not have the funds it takes to fight for custody of a beloved pet during a divorce. This makes including a couple's pets in an agreement all the more important, particularly if one party has been the dog or cat's primary caretaker, especially if the caretaker is not the one who originally adopted the animal. When entering into a 'pup-nup', not only should each party's concerns and wishes be addressed, but, much like dealing with child custody, the pet's best interests may also be important.
Source: CBS New York, "Seen At 11: Couples Avoiding Bitter Pet Custody Battles With 'Pup-Nups'", Nov. 12, 2014