A quarter of divorces involve a dispute over a pet

By Lenore Rice

New research suggests that 1-in-4 divorces in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK involve a dispute over who should keep the family pet.

According to the research pet charity Blue Cross, dogs and cats are the pets that separating couples most fight over during a divorce, followed by horses, rabbits and guinea pigs. The problem is thought to be so widespread that the Law Society is advising couples to plan ahead when they get a pet, and to discuss who would keep it in the event of a separation. Dubbed as 'pet-nups' by some, couples can enter into an agreement on 'shared custody' of the pet, as well as setting out responsibility for maintenance costs.

Alyson Jones of the Blue Cross says they have to deal with "very upsetting situations when pets are brought" to them following a divorce or separation, sometimes without the knowledge of one of the owners.

Prenuptial agreements can be used to protect all manner of things in the event of a divorce, including the family business, heirlooms, assets, and even pets. Many couples will find it hard to consider such an eventuality, but others see the benefit of setting out their wishes and intentions to cover any future scenario.

If you would like to speak to a divorce solicitor in Northern Ireland about any legal matter connected with a separation, or to draft a prenuptial agreement, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 1363.