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Get a ‘Pet-Nup’

Statistics from The Law Society reveal that one in four divorces involve a dispute over pets and Yorkshire/Bradford/Ilkley/Leeds-based LCF Law is warning people to draw up a pre-nuptial agreement about their pets in order to avoid costly and heart-breaking disputes.

Accredited mediator Rachel Spencer Robb, who is a partner and head of family law at LCF Law says: "We have seen a rise in the number of cases involving disputes over the family pets - especially dogs and cats. The breakdown of any relationship is highly stressful and this can be increased by the loss of the pet."

Leading animal charity The Blue Cross is also urging couples to get a 'pet-nup' - the pet equivalent of a pre-nup - as the organisation's re-homing centres have received an extra 1,000 animals over the past five years after their owners separated.

Rachel adds: "A legal document that details the shared responsibilities of the pets' owners, as well as other details such as who covers their expenses, provides peace of mind for both parties.

"Pets are often a huge part of a family and when that family breaks up, it makes sense to protect their welfare and avoid any time-consuming and emotionally distressing disputes over ownership. An agreement up-front will also help to prevent pets from being dragged through the courts or end up in a re-homing centre."

LCF Law is providing advice to anyone concerned about how to settle a dispute over their pet via its twitter account @LawFairSquare. Rachel adds: "Not many people have an agreement in place concerning their pets, but we see plenty of divorce cases where pet ownership is a key issue. Mediation can help, but often the situation is very acrimonious and court is something that is to be avoided."

Rachel Spencer Robb is an accredited Mediator and joint owner with her husband of 23 small fish.

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