For many residents of Ohio and elsewhere, pets are more than just property – they are members of the family. Traditionally, dogs, cats and other animals are treated like marital property during a divorce. However, deciding which spouse should get the family pet can be a much more emotional and contentious issue than splitting ownership of the house and cars. Can you do anything that may protect your relationship with your beloved pet if your marriage fails?
According to ABC News, pet prenups are becoming more common. Like other prenuptial agreements, the pet prenup – or post-nup – is an agreement you and your spouse would make before you get married, or after you are married and obtain a pet together. This type of agreement could help you both avoid a nasty custody battle over your beloved animal or a judge making a decision that is not necessarily in the pet’s best interest.
What could you put in this agreement? In addition to agreeing on a custody or visitation schedule, you may also want to include instructions on the pet’s diet, veterinary care and medical decisions.
It may be some time before other states catch up with states like California and Illinois, where judges consider the animals’ wellbeing when deciding on pet custody. Until then, it may not be a bad idea to consider adding a pet clause to the other items in your prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. Since this topic is sensitive, this information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.