Prenuptial agreements on California pets | The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC
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Prenuptial agreements on California pets

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Divorces in California may be difficult both on an emotional and financial level. On the other hand, difficulties in divorce may be minimized with the help of a prenuptial agreement. This agreement may eliminate expensive divorce proceedings, resolve custody issues and turn long-term disputes into much shorter disagreements. Aside from that, a prenuptial agreement determines which marital property and assets are subject to equitable distribution and which of those properties are excluded. In some instances, even pets can be considered part of the property that requires division.

A survey conducted in 2006 by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that pet custody cases are increasing in divorce. In pet custody, spouses may assume that whoever loved the pet more gets to claim custody. However, that is not always the case.

In divorce, pets are considered property that can be divided by means of a settlement. Both spouses can resolve pet custody in a more private way to exclude other people who are unattached to the pet. The agreement between each spouse may list factors like veterinary bills, visitation rights and miscellaneous expenses.

Also, there may be situations where a spouse lets the court decide on pet custody. With these, the court may consider different aspects that affect the decision, such as if the spouse owned the pet before marriage. In that case, the ownership will remain with that spouse. Primary care is also considered to determine which spouse is more capable of caring for the pet.

When children are involved, pet custody may be granted to the parent who has custody of the children so as to avoid the emotional impact on the kids. More importantly, custody of the pet may be resolved by using a prenuptial agreement. The agreement may prevent arguments as well as protect the pet from property division.

In this case, the court decision about pet custody may vary depending on the situation and the state. However, even though the family treats the pet as a part of the family, pets are considered property. They are counted along with the other marital assets and debts but can be protected from property division, if the spouse formulates a prenuptial agreement before getting married.

Source: Huffington Post, "Why Pets Matter in a Divorce," Silvana D. Raso, Nov. 17, 2012

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