While no one likes to contemplate the possibility of divorce before they even take that walk down the aisle to marry, a little pragmatism goes a long way later should your marriage wind up on the rocks.
While we have dealt with prenups and postnups in our blog before, today’s post focuses on a different sort of marital agreement — the pet-nup.
What is a pet-nup?
In all but a handful of states, pets are treated as marital property to be divided between divorcing spouses much like the china or exercise equipment. There are no custody laws in effect in South Carolina that define who will provide a home for the family’s pet(s) in the event of divorce. That means that no matter how much you love Rover or Sheba, there will be no court-ordered visitation if your ex gets the pet in the divorce. If your ex chooses, they can prevent your ever interacting again with your beloved furry (or feathered) friend.
Enter the pet-nup. This is a voluntary agreement signed by both spouses either before or during the marriage that details who will take “custody” of the pet(s) in a divorce, what the visitation arrangements will be with the spouse who does not keep the pet full-time and even who will be responsible financially for the pet’s care and needs.
What’s best for your pet?
If you are drafting a pet-nup, you should focus on what is best for the pet and not what arrangements best suit your needs. Cats, for instance, are often miserable traveling in a cage between homes, and you run the risk of them escaping and being lost and disoriented in a new environment. Dogs, too, can find it challenging and confusing to adjust to a custody schedule where they spend part of their time in a new home and neighborhood. Sometimes, the kinder choice may be to say a final goodbye and let the pet remain in its former home.
If you do decide on a pet-nup, work closely with your family law attorney to make sure to abide by South Carolina laws so the agreement, if ever needed, will hold up in court.