A recent survey shows that roughly 70 percent of households, or 85 million families, own a pet in the United States. Ask most pet owners what their pet means to them and they will typically use words such as love, companionship, friendship and loyalty to describe the bond they have with their dogs, cats or other furry or not so furry friends. Indeed, many pet owners describe their pets as bona fide members of their families.
Although there are many single people who have pets, a vast majority of pet owners are married, some with children, who may at some point contemplate divorce. Because both parties (and the kids) may have a close relationship with a family pet, not surprisingly more owners are taking the added precaution of getting pet prenuptial agreements, aka petnups – detailing how pet custody will work in the event of a divorce.
In most states, pets are treated much like any other marital property such as the home or car. Whoever can provide the most evidence of ownership such as a purchase agreement may be awarded the pet in the division of marital property. Unfortunately, this approach may cut someone out of the equation who truly cares about the pet and certainly does not consider the feelings of the animal.
Fortunately, last year, Illinois became one of the few states that changed how pets are handled in a divorce, allowing a judge to consider the well-being of companion animals by allocating sole or joint ownership. However, like most issues in a divorce, it is far better for the couple to work together on important issues such as how a pet will be cared for in the event of divorce rather than leaving it up to a judge who may or may not get it right. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement allows couples to decide in advance what decisions are in the best interests of their family, including a beloved pet, to avoid problems down the road if the marital relationship grows contentious.
Do You Have Questions About Prenuptial Agreements?
Contact an Illinois Family Law Prenup Attorney For Answers
With over 30,000 divorce cases involving a dog, and one quarter of divorces featuring custody battles over a dog, it is important to think ahead so your family pet is not caught in the middle. If you have questions regarding prenuptial or postnuptial agreements and what protections they can offer you in the event of a divorce, contact the Illinois family law attorneys of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for more information today at 847-680-4970.