Prenuptial agreements can be helpful for couples to plan for how property is treated if the couple ever gets a divorce. Increasingly, individuals are concerned about pet ownership in a divorce. So-called “pet-nups” could provide for pet ownership when a married couple separates.
If you have any questions about pet ownership, property division, or alimony after a divorce, talk to your North Carolina family law attorneys for help.
Prenuptial Agreements for Pets
A “pet-nup” is like a prenuptial agreement that determines where a pet goes if the couple splits up. This can be a good option for couples hoping to avoid a divorce dispute. Disputes over pet ownership are increasingly common in divorces. Younger married couples are more likely to also be pet owners than in the past, which could mean pet custody disputes will continue to rise.
According to a survey in the U.K, almost a quarter of all divorces involved a conflict over pets. A prenuptial agreement spells out the division of property in advance, it can help reduce or eliminate the time, stress, and expense of a legal battle around what happens with a pet after the marriage ends.
While many people consider pets to be members of the family, they are still generally treated as property by the court. The best option for pet owners is to decide what to do between the divorcing couple instead of leaving it up to the court. Even if the couple does not have a pre-nup and cannot seem to agree on who gets the pet, mediation may help the individuals come to a mutually agreeable solution for pet ownership after the break-up.
Pet Custody After a Divorce in North Carolina
Pet custody after a divorce in North Carolina is generally best decided by the individuals involved. However, if the divorcing couple cannot come up with their own plan for pet ownership, the court may decide who gets the animal. Like other property, pet ownership may be determined by whether the animal is treated as marital property or separate property.
Marital property generally includes possessions and assets acquired by spouses during a marriage. Separate property is acquired before a marriage, or during the marriage as a gift or inheritance from an outside party. If a spouse owned the animal before marriage, that spouse will generally be given custody of the pet.
A pet that is given as a gift to someone during the marriage may be presumed to be marital property if it is received during the marriage unless the person who gave the gift intended the gift to be given solely to one person.
If one spouse gives a puppy, kitten, or another animal to the other spouse, that is generally considered marital property. Even if the spouse intended to give the animal only to the spouse, it may be considered marital property because the money used to buy the animal was likely out of marital funds.
Children and Pets
If the couple also has children, the court may take that into account when determining which individual keeps the pet. A family pet will likely go with the custodial parent when it is in the best interests of the child.
Shelby Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers
Individuals considering a prenuptial agreement can benefit from the experienced legal advice that the skilled attorneys at Caulder & Valentine have to offer. Contact us today for a consultation.