MAY 2020: Top tier Legal 500 firm John Hooper and Co. have designed a bespoke ‘Pet-Nup’ service for clients, which aims to prevent any pooch-based disagreements during the breakdown of a relationship.
The UK is no doubt a nation of pet lovers, and during the Covid-19 pandemic demand for pets, in particular puppies, has increased significantly. The price of puppies has dramatically risen in recent years, with the average puppy now costing at least £1,900 and more popular breeds commanding prices of several thousand pounds. Aside from the significant financial investment made in our four-pawed friends, our pets become very important members of the family unit.
When a relationship breaks down sadly confrontations and disputes can arise in relation to where fluffy family members should live and how they should be cared for, and if unresolved these disputes can end up in the Small Claims Court or within the Family Court as part of a divorce/financial settlement. Recent cases of celebrity break-ups demonstrate how disagreements about pets can prolong separation proceedings.
A young lawyer at John Hooper and Co., a top tier Legal 500 listed family law firm in Nottingham, has devised a bespoke agreement for clients which can help to protect themselves from any additional problems around the care and wellbeing of their pets during separation.
Dominic Lee, Associate Lawyer at John Hooper and Co. says “Entering into a written agreement recording ownership of your pets will help to avoid the heartache of a dispute should you separate from your partner in the future.
We have created a bespoke ‘Pet-Nup’ agreement to assist with this. The documents we’ve created are simple, plain speaking and user friendly. The idea is that couples can update the document themselves as they acquire more pets etc. We understand that every pet owner’s circumstances will be different and the document will need to be tailored to ensure that it fits our client’s purposes.
Pets are treated as “chattels” in the eyes of the law which means they have the same legal status as any other personal possession such as a car or piece of art.
However, A Pet-Nup Agreement can go further in that it could also set out how the time spent with the dog should be shared in the event that you separate from your partner. Pet owners are often able to agree this however, having a written agreement can create certainty and reduce the likelihood of a dispute arising in the future.
The aim of a Pet-Nup is to avoid the need to go to court about the ownership of your pet and it can fit into the wider regulation of your financial and personal circumstances with your partner whether that is a broader Cohabitation Agreement whilst you live together or a Pre-nuptial Agreement if you are intending to marry or enter into a civil partnership.
Having grown up around dogs I understand how important it is to make sure that pets, alongside our other priceless possessions, are safe and sound and don’t go through any additional anxiety during the separation – they can definitely sense when you are stressed!”