Pet Cohabitation Agreements


The RSPCA estimates that there are 9 million pet dogs and 7.

Thu 26 Jan 2017

By Judy

Pet Cohabitation Agreements

The RSPCA estimates that there are 9 million pet dogs and 7.9 million pet cats in the UK. A pet is so much more than just an animal, for most people it is a loved member of their family. For this reason, pet custody can be one of the most contentious aspects of a separation or divorce.

Most pet owners will have heard about ‘pet prenups’ that allow married couples to come to a pre-arranged agreement about what will happen to their pet if they divorce in the future.

However, the reality is that nowadays many couples are choosing not to marry, so a ‘pet prenup’ is not an option for them. When couples live together unmarried, they are described in legal terms as ‘cohabitants’. Cohabiting couple families are the fastest growing type of family in the UK. The Office for National Statistics revealed that in that in the ten year period between 2004 and 2014, the numbers of cohabiting couple families rose by 30%, and this trend is expected to continue into the future. Many couples would never dream of getting married until they have spent some time living with their partner and as time passes they may never get around to tying the knot. Some couples never plan on getting married.

Unfortunately, the law offers little protection to unmarried couples who separate. Breaking up is always a difficult time, and it is common to be concerned about things such as finances and the effect that could be had upon your children. Separating from your partner can also be an incredibly emotional time, and this can be heightened by worries about who will have custody of the family pet.

So how can couples that live together unmarried protect themselves?

A Cohabitation Agreement can be a way to gain clarity about what will happen to your pet, should you separate in the future. This is a contract between a couple who live together and is quite similar to a Prenuptial Agreement in that you get to work with your partner to come to an agreement about what will happen to your property and possessions if your break up. You can state who the pet will live with in the event of a future separation.

A spokesperson from Family Law Liverpool said, ‘With so many couples now choosing not to get married, a Cohabitation Agreement can be a way to settle who is entitled to what. This can help to avoid arguments and fighting over property if the couple split up.’

Moving in with your partner is an exciting time. However, taking the time to come to a Cohabitation Agreement can save you unnecessary expense and stress if your relationship breaks down in the future.