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Family pets: sometimes at center stage in family law matters

Tabloids across the world recently spotlighted the life and likely future of one very high-profile cat.

That is Choupette, the long-time companion of famed designer and fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, who died at an advanced age last month.

Lagerfeld once referred to his beloved cat as an "heiress." Speculation now abounds concerning just how notably high the assigned dollar-count will be that is targeted for her continued care in the wake of his passing.

Few - if any - other animals are in Choupette's high-priced league, of course. That hardly means, though, that they don't command just as much love from families in Illinois and elsewhere as what Lagerfeld lavished upon his pet.

A recent in-depth article on prenuptial agreements and their relevant provisions pertaining to an animal's future care and destiny underscores just how serious legions of Americans are about that subject matter. A dog, cat, horse or other loved animal companion is concededly not a child or sibling, but it is customarily loved by family members in intense fashion. Indeed, a beloved pet can seem akin to something like a social worker or therapist in many families.

It is thus unsurprising that increasingly more divorcing parties are spotlighting pet interests and outcomes via provisions in prenups that they had the foresight to craft prior to marriage. Relevant considerations can range widely from care dictates and a specified vet's office for treatment to maintenance costs and custody.

That latter concern can be especially important in divorces where there are young children who have understandably grown close to a treasured family pet. The above article duly notes that some prenups provide for a shared custody agreement allowing the pet "to follow the same parenting schedule as the child."

Marital contracts - both prenuptial agreements and postmarital contracts - are impressively flexible as to permitted subject matter, as well as being predictably enforceable when having close and timely input from an experienced family law attorney. Questions regarding their scope and utility can be addressed to an established legal office.

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