Allow us to pose a question: Who among you would get married without a pre-nup? Yes, a pre-nup; no longer the domain of the rich and famous, but a vital component of any marriage. (If you don’t believe us, go see your lawyer immediately.) Now let us pose another question: How many among you even thought of a pet-nup while planning your life together?
We’ll go out on a limb and say not many.
One of the reasons is probably because you didn’t know that pet-nups existed. So:
What is a pet-nup?
Pet-nups are a relatively recent legal innovation. They’re very similar to pre-nups in that they are legally binding documents that detail responsibility and rights after a relationship breaks down. In this case, however, the object of the document is a pet, or pets.
Basically, a pet-nup says who gets custody or if the couple shares custody, who gets holidays, who is responsible for healthcare, what happens when one person is ill, etc. Kind of like the rules for children.
Does it sound extreme, silly even?
Perhaps, if you don’t have pets, or if you think pets are ‘just animals’. Fortunately, most people these days think of their pets as family, as children, and so they don’t think it’s remotely silly to plan for them in the event of a divorce or break up.
In fact, one in 14 couples has a pet-nup of sorts in place, and 7% have a formal pet-nup.
So what if you don’t have a pet-nup?
So what, indeed. Some couples don’t need a pet-nup. This is when one person is far more invested or far more capable of taking care of pets than the other. Sometimes one person in the relationship really isn’t that bothered. They’ll move on from the relationship and they’ll get another dog.
But, the sad reality is that 4 pets a week are surrendered to the Blue Cross as a direct result of relationships disintegrating. That’s nearly 210 pets per year. That’s a lot of pets. And that’s why Blue Cross has launched the Pet Nup campaign, and why it’s partnered with divorce specialists Lloyd Platt & Company to create a legally binding document that sets out the rights of pet ownership and ongoing pet care.
You can download the document free of charge from Blue Cross’s website (pdf). Most of the document is legally binding and will stand up in court. But lifestyle choices, like who takes pets on holiday and how pets should be cared for will have to be sorted out between you and your partner. Having it all written out does take some of the stress out of the situation, however.
Yes, we said it. Pets are like children and if you don’t like it then, well, too bad.
One of the reasons is that pets most often end up with the wife or girlfriend. Also, more women than men would rather break off the relationship than sacrifice their children. And, 20% of couples think that deciding who gets custody of the pets is as stressful as deciding who gets custody of the children.
It might be more accurate to say that pets are like life partners, because some people would rather spend cuddle time with their dogs or cats than their partners. A recent study has found that one third of adults would rather cuddle up and watch telly on the sofa with their dog than with their partner. One in eight would rather snuggle with their pet in bed than with their partner. Women (35%) are more likely to choose their pets over men, and more men (50%) are likely to choose pets over women.
One in six women would leave their partners if they didn’t like their pets. One in six men would surrender their pets if their partners didn’t like them.
The fact that pets play such an important role in our lives, potentially accounts for the demand for pet insurance.
So if we’re willing to buy insurance for our pets, why not take the next step and enter a legally binding agreement that stipulates their welfare and ongoing care?