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21st May, 2022

Animal-lovers urged to consider a 'pet-nup'

ANIMAL-LOVING couples who fall out of love with each other are being urged to making breaking-up easier on their pets.

Leamington law firm Blythe Liggins is encouraging couples to consider a ‘pet-nup’ arrangement to look after the welfare of their pets following the explosion of dog and cat ownership during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Louise Sheasby, chartered legal executive at Blythe Liggins Solicitors, said an estimated 3.2 million UK households acquired a pet since the first lockdown in March 2020 – but this could lead to problems as an animal doesn’t have any legal status.

She said many solicitors were now offering a ‘pet nup’ arrangement to clients to ensure their pets are looked after in the event of a relationship breakdown or a death.

Louise said: “A pet is basically treated like a personal possession – to be divided up with the car and the flat screen TV.

“Even before Covid-19, there had been a few high-profile celebrity splits where the couples disagreed about who the dog should live with, resulting in hugely expensive court proceedings. This can be emotionally and financially distressing.

“It’s why some family lawyers are now offering ‘pet-nup’ agreements. Couples are being encouraged to think about what would happen to their much-loved cat or dog if they were to separate.

“A pet-nup agreement can set out things like where your pet lives if you separate, how often they can see the other party, insurance and the purchase of food.

“Like pre-nup agreements for couples who plan to marry, and living together agreements for cohabiting couples, the judge will more than likely respect the decision of the parties even though it is not automatically legally binding.”

Louise said considering the care of an animal while making a will was also important.

“While the majority of people will own a pet at some stage in their lives, not all will remember to think of them when they are making a will. Caring for a pet can be expensive and time consuming, so it is important to think about what will happen to them when we die,” she added.

“We actively encourage our clients to consider this when taking instructions, to ensure pets are cared for as part of the family.”

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