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Have prenuptial agreements gone to the dogs?

With prenuptial agreements growing in popularity in the past few years, it's not uncommon for recently married Minnesota couples to have one. This is especially true if one of the parties has assets of value. It is not permissible for couples to make decisions about child custody in prenuptial agreements, but what about pets? If one party comes to the marriage with several purebred dogs that he or she breeds and shows and plans to keep in the event of a divorce, can this be outlined in a prenup?

Despite what many believe, yes, this circumstance can be discussed in a premarital agreement. As a practical matter, the dogs in this situation are not merely pets. They are part of the person's lifestyle and they also bring in income. But because the spouse may become attached to the dogs and want to fight for custody of them should the marriage go sour, it's a good idea to have a prenup in place to outline who gets custody and if the other party is allowed any visitation.

If the couple is considering a prenup, there needs to be a full disclosure of assets. So while the dogs do bring in money through breeding, they do require significant costs for their daily care, including food, vet bills, grooming, toys and treats. Is just one party going to pay for these costs or will it be a joint effort?

Although many childless couples consider their dogs and other pets to be their children, the law considers them assets. As such, pets can be freely discussed in a prenup with very few restrictions. Therefore, those who feel strongly about holding onto their pets or other assets acquired before marriage should consider a prenup before saying "I do."

Source: Boston Herald, "Woman considers a prenup for pups," Gerald Nissenbaum, Nov. 30, 2014

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