If a couple splits up there are often a number of things to be sorted out. A surprisingly large number of couples find deciding who should look after any of the family’s pets can be a really difficult area for them. A survey carried out by the Law Society earlier this year discovered that nearly 1 in 4 couples who are divorcing needed to consider who would look after any pets.

If a couple cannot agree then the court may have to step in which can be costly and lead to a great deal of stress for all concerned. When celebrity couple Cheryl and Ashley Cole split up they ended up going to court where it was decided that Cheryl would keep their two chihuahuas and that Ashley would be able to see them for a few days a month.

If a couple are married then the court will consider both parties claims to a pet and may take into account which person spent more time looking after the pet in question. If the parties are unmarried then the pet will be treated as a “chattel” that is in the same way as any other property owned by one of the couple. The court would want to know who had paid for the pet when it first arrived rather than which person looked after the pet on a day to day to basis.

Last year on Valentine’s day the Blue Cross animal charity publicised the fact that it is possible for couples to enter into a “pre nuptial” agreement if they are getting married or a Cohabitation (Living Together ) Agreement if they are thinking of moving in together. It can provide certainty as to what would happen if unfortunately the couple spilt up.

In my last blog I mentioned that it is possible to have a Pre Nuptial or a Living Togther agreement drawn up and it would certainly be a good idea to have one in place if you have any pets. If you would like any further information please contact either Ashwin Topiwala on 0116 2628596 or ashwin.topiwala@dodds-solicitors.co.uk in respect of Pre Nuptial Agreements or Sarah Spence on 01162628596 or sarah.spence@dodds-solicitors.co.uk in respect of Living Together Agreements.

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