Whether you found your pet as a stray, adopted it from a shelter or bought it from a breeder, it is likely that the animal quickly became a part of your life. You and your partner may have built a new routine around the animal, perhaps getting up early when the pet demanded food or keeping a flashlight by the door for late-night walks.
Although you bonded quickly with your pet, have you thought about what may happen if the bond between you and your partner faces a challenge? If you and your partner are getting married, you may want to protect your pet from becoming a pawn if you should ever divorce. Do you know how the state of Connecticut deals with pets whose parents are going through a divorce?
Protect your pet with a contract
With only a few exceptions, pets fall under the heading of property when a couple divorces. In fact, while some courts take a more compassionate approach, by law, the pet’s monetary value is the primary concern during asset division. Difficult as it may be to consider the breakup of your marriage, it may be even more difficult to consider the disaster such a breakup will be for your animal.
It is common for an embittered spouse to use the pet against his or her partner — for example, demanding the pet in a divorce settlement simply as vengeance against the spouse who has a special connection to the animal. You may be able to prevent this by signing a pet prenuptial agreement. These contracts are becoming more popular and may answer questions such as these:
- Who will take custody of the animal?
- How will you schedule any shared custody?
- Which vet will the animal visit?
- Who will pay for vet bills, pet insurance and long-term medical care, if needed?
- Will the pet travel with your children for visitation?
- Who will make end-of-life decisions for the animal?
Having a pet prenuptial agreement can prevent painful outcomes if your divorce ends up in the hands of a judge. Even if you and your partner do not marry, if you share a pet, it is wise to have a legal agreement that will protect the pet from an emotional confrontation that may result in the pet ending up in a place where it is not appreciated or loved. If this is your concern, you would be wise to reach out for legal advice about your options.