Who Get’s Fido?
It looks like the Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth split should be a relatively smooth one- legally speaking. By all reports, the couple entered into a prenuptial agreement, in advance of their 8 month marriage.
No children, no one in need of support- what could present a legal wrinkle? Custody of the Pets!!
The couple have dogs, a horse and pigs, to name a few. It is increasingly common for people to deal with Pet Custody issues within their PreNups. Do the math- 68% of Americans have pets. (According to the 2019/2020 American Pet Products Assn., 84.9 million households) 43% of US marriages end in divorce. That’s a lot of pet parent uncertainty.
By dealing with the issue of pet custody on the front end, we can avoid a lot of courtroom angst. The laws of most states still view pets like household property. Just like a sofa or toaster oven- the party who purchased or adopted the pet is the one who gets to keep it. There is often no consideration given to which partner may be in the better position to provide the optimal pet home. California law is leading the way, by adopting the “Best Interests of the Pet” standard. Those of us in the other 49 states, may wish to plan or this on the front end!
A related issue involves couples at odds over spending on pets. Some take their pets to spas and provide organic meals and filtered water. I have seen people deplete their retirement accounts because of pet spending. If we see that this may be a source of contention on the front end, we can provide some guidelines within a PreNup. If the issues are not apparent til after the marriage, we can create a PosNup. And Unmarried partners can create a CoHabitation agreement! The compromise may be a corresponding cut in someone’s sports memorabilia budget!