According to The Human Society of the United States, at least one pet resides in an estimated 62 percent of U.S. households. Based on statistics from 2012, there are an estimated 83.3 million dogs and 95.6 million cats that are kept as pets in the U.S.
For many individuals and families, a beloved dog or cat is considered and treated as a family member. It’s no wonder people love their canine and feline companions so much. These types of pets provide unconditional love, are fairly easy to please and are generally good listeners that don’t point out one’s shortcomings or talk back.
What happens, however, if a married couple decides to divorce? Who gets to keep Fido or fluffy? Given the way many pet owners feel about their pets, it makes sense that 27 percent of attorney respondents to a 2014 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey reported noticing “an uptick in pet-custody fights over the past five years.”
According to the survey’s results, the majority of pet custody disputes involve dogs and, with no clear-cut or universal laws regarding how to determine pet custody in divorce cases, such disputes can quickly grow contentious and costly.
To help mitigate any potential future disputes about Fido’s future, Chicago area residents who plan to marry may want to consider addressing pet custody issues in a prenuptial agreement. In addition to helping betrothed couples establish clear rules and lines with regard to financial matters, a prenuptial agreement can also be used to determine which spouse will retain primary custody of a pet in the event of a divorce.
Source: The Boston Globe, “Divorce lawyers see uptick in ‘pet prenups’,” James Sullivan, Nov. 22, 2014