A Pet-Custody Prenuptial Agreement
The following pet custody question asked to Harry Gross can avoid a soap-opera style custody battle after a couple splits up:
Dear Harry: My boyfriend and I have been living together for two years. In a conversation with friends last night, we got into discussing prenuptial agreements. We got through with financial arrangements and children, and then started on pets.
We bought a beautiful golden retriever about a year ago. We love that dog almost as much as we would love children. Is there a way we could handle the dog’s custody if we separate or die? This is not a frivolous question for us.
What Harry Says: Dealing with pet custody is very stressful. Lawyers can prepare pet-custody agreements for a modest fee.
The problem is for you to decide what those arrangements should be. Joint custody is a possibility, with each of you to have custody for part of each week or month. That’s pretty tough on many animals emotionally.
Many folks would give up full custody rather than create emotional problems for dogs or cats. Fish don’t seem to have that emotional problem.
You may stipulate in your wills just who will have custody when you die.
However, you cannot leave funds directly to the animal. You need a financial custodian or trustee if you’re leaving a fund to care for the pet.
The custodian of the animal need not be its financial custodian
Reference: Harry Gross, Philadelphia Daily News, November 12, 2014