Making The Complex

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Protecting pet ownership with a prenuptial agreement

Pet owners put a lot of time, money and effort into caring for their beloved animals, and for good reason — four legged friends are increasingly considered members of the family. But there does not feel like there is much room for these family members in Louisiana family law. Pets are considered property, which means that without a prenuptial agreement, divorcing couples are usually expected to deal with their animals during property division.

Property division is the process of determining who gets what marital assets, which includes pets. However, there are many people who are not comfortable with the idea of just handing over ownership to their exes and saying goodbye to their pets forever. During a survey in which American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers asked attorneys about couples fighting over animals, 27% said they had seen an increase in court cases. Of those court battles, 88% involve dogs while the remaining 12% account for cats, horses and other animals.

Heading to court is not the only option, though. A prenuptial agreement is a smart alternative to spending time and money locked in a legal battle over a pet. Many pet owners like to refer to these agreements as pup nups, and it gives them the opportunity to really think about what is best for their pets while they are still on good terms with one another.

Most pup nups should cover the same general topics. These are visitation schedules and the related costs, like food, supplies and vet bills. Instead of laying out a specific schedule in an agreement, many Louisiana parents with young children agree to simply sync pets’ schedules with parenting time. This type of prenuptial agreement not only gives pet parents the opportunity to still see their animals, but it can also give children a sense of continued security during a difficult time.


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