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Don’t Lose Your Pet In A Divorce: Get a Prenup

prenuptial agreement and pets

You might have heard that the term “equitable” in “equitable distribution” means “fair,” but that does not make it hurt any less when the court orders you to sell off property that you had hoped to keep after your divorce, or, worse, to award an asset to your ex when you know in your heart that your family only owned that asset because of your hard work and wise decision-making.  Property can be gained, lost, and regained, but losing a pet to your ex because the judge thinks that such an agreement is “fair” is truly devastating.  The bad news is that, in the eyes of the law, pets are just property, like a car or an armchair.  The good news is that because pets count as property, you can protect your ownership of them in a prenuptial agreement.  If you are considering signing a prenup, contact an Orlando divorce attorney to discuss your options.


How Prenuptial Agreements Work


Under Florida law, all assets obtained after the marriage, even if you bought them in your name alone and with your earned income, count as marital property.  One might imagine that everything you owned before the marriage remains as individual property, but that is not always the case.  The court can rule that your spouse contributed to the asset substantially, financially or otherwise, and count it as marital property.


The safest way to keep an asset from becoming marital property is to sign a prenuptial agreement.  You can list any assets or debts that are to remain individual property; this includes pets that you owned before the marriage.  Prenuptial agreements can also set limits on the amount of spousal support you will pay in a divorce.  You cannot list anything in regards to children, child custody, or child support in a prenuptial agreement.  The family courts deal with issues relating to children separately from disputes over division of property.


Paws Before In-Laws: Pets Are Not Necessarily Marital Property


If you and your ex got your pet after you were married, then your only option is to agree between yourselves who gets the pet, or else to battle it out in court and let a judge decide.  If you own the pet at the time of the marriage, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by mentioning the animal in a prenuptial agreement.  This will result in one of two consequences.  If you and your spouse divorce, you have it in writing that the pet belongs to you.  If you stay married and do not divorce, then you both keep the pet, anyway.


Contact an Orlando Divorce Attorney About Prenuptial Agreement Cases


Do not believe the stereotypes about prenuptial agreements.  They are not just for people who have decided to divorce before they even walk down the aisle; in fact, they can prevent marital conflict even more than they can cause it.  Contact Orlando divorce attorney Sean Smallwood, P.A. for a consultation.



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