Cutting Edge Solutions...

Old Style Service And Values

Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

New Trend Helps Highlight Benefits Of Georgia Prenuptial Agreements

The growing popularity of “pet prenups,” which determine ownership or visitation of pets after divorce, underscores many common benefits of prenuptial agreements.

Prenuptial agreements allow engaged couples to dictate how various legal issues, including asset division, will be handled in the event of divorce. Many couples in Marietta may believe prenuptial agreements are primarily advisable for people who have significant personal assets. However, reports show that it is becoming more common for pet owners to use these agreements to address the issue of ownership after divorce.

‘Pet prenups’ on the rise

As The Boston Globe explains, it’s not uncommon for divorcing spouses to both claim ownership of their pets. In 2014, 27 percent of attorneys who responded to an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey reported seeing more divorce disputes involving pets.

Unfortunately, deciding which spouse keeps a pet after divorce can be challenging. When spouses divorce, their pets are treated as property, rather than dependents. According to the USA Today, to determine ownership, family law judges weigh many of the factors that they would weigh when dividing marital property. A judge might evaluate which spouse bought the pet or financially provided for it. In many cases, judges may not directly consider whether an arrangement would be best for the pet.

To address this potential issue, many couples are turning to prenuptial agreements to stipulate ownership before any conflicts arise. As The Boston Globe notes, couples may use these agreements to specify which pets each spouse will keep after the divorce. Couples may also use prenuptial agreements to establish pet custody or visitation. These measures may significantly reduce conflict during the divorce.

Advantages of prenuptial agreements

The growing popularity of these “pet prenups” calls attention to a few key benefits that prenuptial agreements generally offer. These include:

  • Customization — Spouses can agree to an arrangement that offers a tailored fit for their personal situations. In family law court, a judge may arrive at a decision that neither spouse fully supports.
  • Less conflict — Prenuptial agreements reduce the need for spouses to fight over the terms of the settlement. This can make the divorce less contentious and less stressful.
  • Potential savings — Spouses who can navigate the settlement process more quickly may reduce their divorce-related expenses.

These benefits can make prenuptial agreements worthwhile for many people, including those who lack high-value assets.

Before marriage, many couples may be reluctant to draft prenuptial agreements, since doing so acknowledges the possibility of the marriage ultimately ending. Still, whether spouses are concerned with protecting their pets or personal assets, having a prenuptial agreement can offer substantial benefits in the event of divorce.

Drafting a functional agreement

Prenuptial agreements must meet several specific criteria to be considered valid. In Georgia, an agreement cannot be thrown out for technical reasons if it clearly expresses the intention of both spouses. However, an agreement may not be enforceable if one spouse was misled or lacked information needed to make a reasonable decision.

Considering these issues, anyone who is considering creating a prenuptial agreement may benefit from meeting with an attorney. Besides ensuring that the agreement is enforceable, an attorney may be able to advise a person on whether the terms of the agreement are reasonable and appropriate.