Prenups and Pup-Nups: Getting it in Writing

When considering a prenuptial agreement, couples usually include their thoughts on pre-marital finances, 401K plans, bank accounts and real estate. But they should also discuss what to do about dogs, cats and other animals acquired before and during the marriage.

In New Jersey, animals are still considered property, formally known as “chattels,” but they are not the legal equivalent of a lamp or a chair. Courts in New Jersey can consider the “special, subjective value” that pets have to their owners, in awarding possession of a companion animal in a divorcing or splitting couple. When the couple is married, it makes no difference who has “title” to the animal or even who paid for it: all property acquired by both or either parties during the marriage is considered marital property subject to equitable distribution. If they are not married, the lines of distinction can be more blurry: although one party may have laid out the entire cost for the acquisition or maintenance of the pet, or if it is registered in one party’s sole name, it is the intent of the parties that dictates whether the pet is owned by one party or the other, or if it is jointly held property.

The solution: make sure you include your intentions in a prenuptial agreement, especially when buying a “family pet” before the actual marriage. If you are engaged and considering buying a companion animal later down the road, you should include specific rules for determining who owns the animal or who will get possession if the marriage ends in divorce.

Learn more about Divorce & Family Law at Gina Calogero Law

If you need to consult with a family-divorce attorney in New Jersey, contact Gina Calogero Law today. Call 201-265-5575 today!

When considering a prenuptial agreement, couples usually include their thoughts on pre-marital finances, 401K plans, bank accounts and real estate. But they should also discuss what to do about dogs, cats and other animals acquired before and during the marriage.

In New Jersey, animals are still considered property, formally known as “chattels,” but they are not the legal equivalent of a lamp or a chair. Courts in New Jersey can consider the “special, subjective value” that pets have to their owners, in awarding possession of a companion animal in a divorcing or splitting couple. When the couple is married, it makes no difference who has “title” to the animal or even who paid for it: all property acquired by both or either parties during the marriage is considered marital property subject to equitable distribution. If they are not married, the lines of distinction can be more blurry: although one party may have laid out the entire cost for the acquisition or maintenance of the pet, or if it is registered in one party’s sole name, it is the intent of the parties that dictates whether the pet is owned by one party or the other, or if it is jointly held property.

The solution: make sure you include your intentions in a prenuptial agreement, especially when buying a “family pet” before the actual marriage. If you are engaged and considering buying a companion animal later down the road, you should include specific rules for determining who owns the animal or who will get possession if the marriage ends in divorce.

Learn more about Divorce & Family Law at Gina Calogero Law

If you need to consult with a family-divorce attorney in New Jersey, contact Gina Calogero Law today. Call 201-265-5575 today!

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