family & Pets

Thu, 23 May, 2019Courtney Allan

Who keeps the dog? Why “pet-nups” are on the rise

Who keeps the dog? Why “pet-nups” are on the rise

With more than 62 per cent of Aussie households owning pets, lawyers have said that it’s becoming increasingly common for couples to sign pet prenups or “pet-nups” to avoid fights over who gets to keep their shared animal if the couple break up.

"We see this daily and I'm not exaggerating," Nicholas Stewart, partner at Dowson Turco Lawyers told 10 daily.

"Pets play a significant role in our lives and when a relationship breaks down all hell can break loose. I've seen really protracted and expensive legal fights over pets wherein both parties claim a special connection with the animal," he added.

In Australia, a prenuptial agreement is technically called a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA) according to the Family Law Act.

It is a legally binding financial agreement between two people who intend to marry or live together in a de facto relationship.

As much as people love their pets, they’re still considered as property under Australian pet laws and in a BFA are included with things such as clothing and furniture.

In NSW, a pet can only have one registered owner and according to Stewart, those are the ones who are likely to be awarded “primary rights” to the animal, whether they want them or not.

However, amending the law to give pets equal standing to children isn’t the answer.

"That would clog up the courts and be an expensive cost to society," Stewart said.

People are looking to get BFA’s to ensure their pet goes to the right person, despite the cost. A BFA costs $5,000 to $10,000, but fighting out pet custody in court will cost more.

"I have seen people go to great monetary lengths to keep their pets," Stewart said.