When you marry the love of your life, you’re likely not walking down the aisle (or standing in a New York courthouse) thinking about divorce. In fact, like most newlyweds, you no doubt expect your relationship to last a lifetime.
Perhaps you have a dog that was already like a family member to you. You may have known your pet longer than you’ve known your spouse. While no one likes to think that their marriage may one day end in divorce, signing a “pooch prenup” is a good idea, for several reasons.
Most judges in New York will treat pets as property, not family members
If things go south in your relationship down the line, and you decide that you’d rather file for divorce than stay in an unhappy marriage, you and your spouse must resolve all issues relevant to a settlement.
To you, your beloved dog is a family member. Legally speaking, however, the court considers your pet to be property, which means what happens to the animal as part of the divorce will be determined through property division proceedings, not custody proceedings.
You can list your dog as separately owned property in a prenup
Signing a prenuptial agreement before marriage is a way to protect assets, particularly property you already own going into marriage and want to keep separate. Incorporating terms of agreement as to what should happen to your dog if you and your spouse decide to divorce may save you a lot of stress and heartache later on.
It is best to leave no stone unturned
The third reason you might want to consider signing a “pooch prenup” is that it helps avoid confusion and surprises in court. When you get married, you assume that your spouse will always have your best interests in mind. However, people have a way of showing another side of themselves if things aren’t going their way in a divorce.
One spouse might want to hurt the other, and if he or she knows how much the other spouse loves the family dog, it could become a source of contention. If you’ve already laid out terms in a prenuptial agreement, the court can enforce it in a divorce. It would prevent a spouse from being able to “get revenge” by trying to take the dog away.
Divorce does affect pets, especially dogs
If you’ve been a dog owner for a long time, you understand how loyal a pet a dog can be. Some dogs even have separation anxiety when their owners are away. If you and your spouse decide to divorce, it may affect your dog. This is why some couples decide it’s best to share ownership of a dog, especially if the animal is used to spending equal amounts of time with both people.