When one thinks of family, parents, children and grandparents often come to mind. Increasingly, that picture includes family pets as integral members of the familial unit in Alaska. As such, if a divorce is contemplated, not only may child custody become an issue, but pet custody as well. To help accommodate the issue, a new term is becoming familiar in family law.
People are mostly familiar with the idea of a pre-nuptial agreement that helps determine the distribution of property and assets in the event of a divorce. There is a new term that is gaining ground, known as a “pet-nup.” It determines who retains custody of a family pet in the event of a divorce.
Pets, like people, are in many instances enjoying longer lives due to improved veterinary care and advances in medicine. As people become attached to the animals, it can become difficult to consider life without them, and the loss of a pet can be almost as painful as losing a loved one. In a survey carried out by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, it was found that there has been a 27% increase in pet-custody cases in recent years. Part of this increase is attributed to people having fewer children and so becoming more attached to their family pets.
Pets have unique personalities and can form strong bonds with their human families in Alaska. In the event of a divorce, the well-being of the family dog, cat or other animal can become a serious concern and even a bone of contention. As with issues concerning child custody, if pet custody issues are not resolved, it may fall to a judge to determine who retains custody of a beloved pet. Faced with the possibility of a divorce, a person concerned about a pet custody issue could benefit from seeking the counsel of a knowledgeable family law attorney.