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When is it smart to include the dog in a prenuptial and/or postnuptial agreement?

Texas readers are well aware that divorce is a difficult process, especially if the two parties are not able to work together on an amicable agreement. In some cases, it is necessary to go to court to resolve disputes and reach a final settlement, and along the way, couples may fight over everything from who gets the house to who gets to keep the pets. For many families, pet ownership can play a critical role in a divorce.

Many couples choose to protect their interests by drafting a prenuptial agreement before they marry. This can be a smart step, regardless of income level, as it eliminates the need to fight over property division in case of a divorce. Some couples are also including the issue of pet ownership in their prenuptial and/or post-nuptial agreements.

The family dog and your property rights

For many families, the dog or another type of animal is more than just a pet – it is part of the family. You may love your pet, but it may surprise you to learn that in particularly acrimonious divorces, some people use the pet as a bargaining chip to put the other person in a difficult emotional position. Consider the following information about pet ownership and divorce:

  • The judge may decide who gets to keep the dog based on who seems to be a better caretaker for the dog.
  • In some cases, it may come down to ownership of the pet going to whichever spouse's name is on the paperwork when adopting the animal.
  • It is often up to the discretion of the judge to decide what would be in the best interests of the pet and what will happen to it after the divorce is final.

For these reasons, many couples see the benefit in drafting a prenuptial agreement that specifically addresses what will happen to any particular pet. If you are a pet owner and getting married, you may think about taking this step as well. For many, a prenuptial agreement provides peace of mind for the future

Consider your pet and other matters carefully

It is wise to work with a legal professional when drafting a prenuptial agreement. An experienced Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney in Collin County, Dallas County or Denton County, or elsewhere throughout Texas can ensure that you end up with an agreement that is fair, reasonable and enforceable in case of future disputes. No one enters marriage assuming that it will end in divorce, but pet owners can find great assurance in taking care of their beloved pet's needs in case of that contingency down the road.

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