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Fighting like cats & dogs? Get a ‘Petnup’

Brits are being urged to plan for the future of their furry friends by entering into a ‘petnup’ – a legally binding agreement outlining the custody arrangements of the family pets, should the relationship break up.

This comes following a surge in animal ownership over lockdown with 17 million homes in the UK now having a pet – 3.2million of them joining families during the pandemic. Similarly, the pandemic has seen a spike in break ups and divorces due to the strain caused on relationships over the past 12 months.

Langleys Solicitors call this a ‘sensible and logical step’ and partner at Langleys Solicitors, Theo Hoppen said:

“Aside from the arrangements for children, deciding who takes the family pet can be one of the most difficult battles to have when dividing up assets on separation.

“Whilst a pet can quickly become part of the family, the law is clear and treats pets as chattels, an item of personal property, such as a piece of furniture or a car. 

“If parties cannot agree arrangements for Fido, a Court will only be interested in who paid for the pet and who was responsible for the pet financially, unless it can be clearly shown the pet was purchased as a gift for the other party or there was an agreement that the ownership would be shared with the party who did not purchase it. 

“A Judge will not be interested who takes the dog on better walks or gives him the better belly rubs and they are unlikely to get involved in arranging visiting hours, financial support or any other decisions pet owners feel need to be made. 

“If discussions aren’t getting you anywhere, a dispute over who keeps the family pet may be resolved by mediation, enabling you both to sit down with an impartial mediator who can help guide you to a resolution.

“As a preventative measure, parties may consider entering into a ‘petnup’. Similarly, to a pre-nuptial agreement, this can set out the arrangements upon separation and confirm who the pet will live with, who will pay for vet fees and who will ultimately care for the pet.

“When drafted correctly, a ‘petnup’ can form a contract between you and your partner which will likely be upheld by the Court.”

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