Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about your individual situation it is best to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional.
In the world of family law, it’s a well-known phenomenon that prenups are becoming more common. Prenups aren’t just for wealthy couples anymore. Many people are realizing it’s responsible to make a plan to protect themselves and alleviate potential conflict. And there is an additional factor that is becoming more common too. That is making contingency plans for the non-human members of the family in the event of a break-up. It’s unfortunately very common that divorcing partners will fight bitterly over the family dog, and even use pets as bargaining tools with their partner. Before you think “my partner wouldn’t do that”, consider that people are often as emotionally attached to their pets as their children. The main conflict with pets in divorce is that a pet is legally considered property, and yet the pet can’t be divided, unlike property. So it may seem that there is no compromise when it comes to sharing a pet in divorce, but when you mediate a prenup, there are more options than you think.
Mediating a Pet Prenup – Considerations and Compromise
Here are some things you might need to consider when drafting a pet prenup:
– Who Pays For the Pet – Pet insurance, medical bills, feeding, grooming… Keeping your pet maintained, fed and cared for can cost a lot of money. Just as with a child, there might be one partner who keeps the pet and the other who gets the fun of being a “weekend Dad.” To avoid resentment it’s important to decide who takes financial and physical responsibility for the pet, or how this responsibility can be shared. At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we are adept at helping couples craft solutions that consider various factors — financial, emotional even spiritual. To work out calculations that involve both financial interest and emotion, we often use mathematical tools like game theory.
– Pet Custody – Who has physical custody of a pet is a huge consideration when drafting pet prenups. Depending on where partners are located, shared custody may or may not be an option. Couples may also have different levels of attachment to a pet, which can be determined in mediation on a psychological basis. Making decisions in advance can take the pain out of the eventual separation. If shared custody is an option, mediation can help you sketch out what a schedule would look like. Some couples prefer to make a stipulation that custody of the family pet is tied to a parenting schedule (which can’t be included in the prenup) but which can be made after, to maintain children’s emotional bonds with a pet. At Boileau Conflict Solutions we specialize in crafting smart, flexible parenting plans for divorcing couples with busy lives.
– Medical Decisions – Often when couples divorce, animals can be entering their final years. These pets can have chronic conditions and there may be difficult choices to make about their care and the end of their lives. Your prenup can contain important agreements about these difficult choices that can save untold pain and conflict when a pet is eventually in poor health or close to the end of their lives.
Who We Are and How We Can Help
At Boileau Conflict Solutions we are a group of caring and well-educated mediators and negotiators with financial, legal and psychological backgrounds. We maintain that animals are important stakeholders in our culture and should be represented fairly in conflict. The first step to successfully mediating a dispute involving animals is recognizing that animals have legitimate life interests. In the legal system, animals are treated like property. By considering the best interests of animals, parties don’t have to remain locked in intractable positions with animals as property or collateral. We apply our backgrounds in financial mathematics, the law psychoanalysis, and game theory to complex conflicts including high-level divorce mediation. Our divorce mediation services are tailored to the needs of people with complex lives or divorces that may be difficult or protracted. We often help with national and international relocation issues associated with divorce and are adept at crafting parenting plans for busy professional lives. You can visit us at our offices in Campbell, CA, Irvine, CA and San Diego, CA. We can also be reached by Telephone, Zoom or Facetime. We are available 7 days a week and at urgent notice. Please contact us to see how we can help.
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