July 17, 2015
With the lack of anything more important to discuss this week (wait? Is there anything more important than pets?), there is an article this week advising couples to get a prenup regarding their pets in the event of a divorce.
In addition to my previous stated ambivalence regarding prenups in general, a prenup regarding pets seems to me to be particularly silly. Prenups (at least in Wisconsin) are enforceable not only if they are fair at the time of signing, but also if they are fair at the time of implementation. Given the changes which can occur during a marriage, predicting what each party will want and what would be good for a pet at an unknown time in the future seems to be unlikely. As Yogi Berra (supposedly) said: “Predictions are very difficult to make, especially about the future.”
That being said, pet issues can be very difficult as courts – reluctant to hear any family law issue – are particularly reluctant to decide about pets. I do know of one way not to resolve this issue. In my files is a letter which an associate of mine received from an opposing lawyer who suggested that since the parties could not agree about their dogs, they be euthanized to avoid fighting over them. He was quite serious. Yeah, we can’t agree, so let’s just kill them!
The right way to decide this issue is via mediation. Fortunately, I know a social worker who will do mediation on pet issues. More should – especially for childless couples, it can be a highly important issue. And, this way it would be decided when the parties split and their future circumstances are better known.
So pet prenups make for an interesting headline. But in most cases, I don’t think it makes for good policy.