HCR Law Events

17 November 2020

Take the house, but I’m keeping the dog – how a Pup-Nup™ can help safeguard your dog’s future

For many separating or divorcing couples, the question of who gets the dog is as important as working through the finances and arrangements for the children. With dog ownership increasing exponentially during lockdown, and many people considering puppies as Christmas presents, taking out a Pup-Nup™ is a sensible option for those thinking about the dog’s future. After all, in the words of the famous Dogs Trust campaign, a dog is for life…

What is a Pup-Nup™?

A Pup-Nup™ is an agreement that safeguards the arrangements for your puppy or dog, upon the breakdown of your relationship.

The English courts treat dogs in the same way they would treat contents and possessions. Dogs are valued members of the family and unfortunately, issues surrounding their care and ownership can result in contentious and lengthy legal proceedings. Ultimately, if the owners can’t agree on a way forward, a court will need to decide on the issue. The court’s powers include the ability to transfer ownership as well as make financial provisions for the dog.

Unlike Children Act proceedings where there is specific legislation of factors a court must consider, nothing on dogs or pets generally exists. So a Pup-Nup™ is an effective way to state your wishes and agree on what will happen in the dog’s future, should you and your partner separate.

Is a Pup-Nup™ really for me?

For Charlotte H. the reasons for wanting a Pup-Nup™ were clear. She and her partner wanted to avoid any bitterness should they split up. She said: “We wanted to ensure we could both continue to see Arlo if we separated. Of course we hope we never need to use the Pup-Nup™ but it’s a really sensible option for ensuring that Arlo’s care is continued – financially and emotionally. It’s given us peace of mind that Arlo’s best interests will be put first and his future is protected.”

What do you need to know? Frequently Asked Questions

I am not married but want custody of the dog – how can I ensure that happens?

The simple position is that the dog would belong to the individual that paid for it. So whilst you may not have been the individual who paid for the dog, you may be responsible for their day to day care and upkeep and it’s for this reason that you may wish to enter into a Pup-Nup™. If you did purchase the dog, you would be encouraged to retain any evidence relating to the purchase.

Can I include a form of a Pup-Nup™ in a Pre-Nuptial Agreement or Cohabitation Agreement?

Yes. Many of our clients have asked us to include provisions regarding pets generally within Pre-Nuptial or Cohabitation Agreements. However, the cost of a Pup-Nup™ is a fraction of the price of a Pre-Nuptial or Cohabitation Agreement and therefore, a specific Pup-Nup™ may be more appealing to you. We charge a fixed fee for Pup-Nups and to make the process easier for you, we can put your partner in touch with an independent solicitor to act on their behalf as ‘the other side’.

What does a Pup-Nup™ include?

Among other details the Pup-Nup™ specifies where your dog will live, its diet, insurance and health care provisions, holiday arrangements and what would happen if one owner does not carry out their duties of ownership. A Pup-Nup™ is the most straightforward way to ensure your dog is looked after in the way you want it to be, should you and your partner split up.

Supporting all dogs’ futures

This Christmas we want to spread a little cheer. When our clients take out a Pup-Nup™ agreement, we’ll make a donation to the Dogs Trust, helping them care for dogs in need.

Find out more

If you think a Pup-Nup™ sounds like a sensible option for you and your partner, talk to us about safeguarding your dog’s future.

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About the Author
Nick Gova, Partner, Head of Family Law Team, London

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