Pet Prenups – Do I Need One?


Over the weekend, you may have caught a discussion on BBC Radio 4 about Pet Prenups. Apparently, they are becoming increasingly popular in New York and the expectation is that they will become more popular in the UK too.

So, what are Pet Prenups and why might you need one?

A Pet Prenup is an agreement between you and your partner which sets out what would happen to your pet if you divorce or if your relationship breaks down. It would cover the “ownership” of your pet, who is responsible for ongoing pet care arrangements and what those arrangements might be. It might also cover how often the partner who doesn’t have full-time care of the pet after a separation can see the pet.

Why is this important?

For many couples, pets are an integral part of family life. But when relationships break down, it is not uncommon for arguments to arise about who gets to keep the family pet. In fact, research by the pet charity Blue Cross found that:

  • Four pets are taken in by Blue Cross every week following relationship breakdowns;
  • Dogs and cats are the most fought over pets, followed by horses, rabbits and guinea pigs;
  • When Brits split it is usually (56%) the wife or girlfriend who keeps the pet, whereas just under a third of men (29%) retain full ownership;
  • For those who couldn’t decide who should keep the pet, 15% decided to give them to a family friend, 12% to family members and 6% to pet charities such as Blue Cross.

Source: Blue Cross

What is the Law?

From a legal perspective, the law in England & Wales is clear. A pet will be treated as an item of personal property such as a piece of furniture, art-work or jewellery. Where disputes arise as to who gets to keep the pet after divorce or separation, it can simply come down to whose money was used to purchase the pet and who has financially maintained the pet. This will always seem unfair if the other party has spent more time looking after the pet or is better placed to care for the pet going forward. But there is very little, if any, room for manoeuvre unless the pet was subsequently given as a gift.

That is why it is worth thinking about having a Pet Prenup.

For more information:

For more information on the treatment of pets on divorce, read earlier our blog which examines the law, shared care arrangements, a possible welfare-based approach to pet ownership and what to do when you reach a stalemate.

Thinking ahead about the arrangements for your much loved pet in a Pet Prenup provides clarity and avoids the opportunity for further disagreement if things don’t work out in the future.

At Family Law in Partnership our aim is to make the experience of family change better so that our clients can successfully move forward with their lives. We are expert family and divorce lawyers but we also make it our job to understand the emotional impact of divorce and separation on you and your family.

For further information or if you would like to discuss anything detailed in this blog further, contact any of our leading family lawyers at E: or T: 020 7420 5000.