Getting divorced? Pet alimony for pampered pups and kitties is a thing now

Deciding to part with ways your spouse? If you’re a pet parent, you may have to shell out the cash not just for your ex, but your pet, too! A growing trend is seeing the alimony amount now include maintenance for the pet dog or cat. And it’s no small sum either! Couples who separate are asking for quite a steep amount for their well-coiffed pets. Divorce lawyer Siddhartha Shah who’s dealt with a few of these cases, affirms, “Yes, asking for pet maintenance definitely is on the rise now. In fact, when pets are at the centre of the situation, it is actually like a tug-of-war, exactly like it would be in child custody issues – one person says, ‘I have paid through the credit card for the pet so therefore it should belong to me’, while the other says, ‘I have raised it, so it must stay with me’. Because the pet is considered as a child a lot of emotions get involved. And sometimes three pets involved, which raises the quandary and the fight is for upkeep and maintenance of all three.”
‘I don’t want maintenance for myself, but for my pet’
Samisha Mehta, corporate consultant, married for five years and now separated, approached a lawyer to state she did not want maintenance for herself but for her dog and explains why. She says, “I am talking divorce with my husband. We were married for four years and are separated for a few months, now. We both chose to get our Labrador, Zander, as we both wanted him and we raised him as a puppy. I love him like my child. My whole point is, fine, that we don’t want to be in each other’s lives, but just because we have decided to go our own way why should the dog suffer? It’s not his fault we are moving away from each other, so the expenses should also be shared. My ex disagrees and wants to cut off completely, but my request is that maintenance should be given for the pet. Why should my dog suffer his lifestyle? My ex says all he needs is a meal, but in our happy days, we didn’t get our dog to just give him food and the basics. He deserves to be given the same life he always led. I don’t want maintenance for myself, but I want that the dog should have the same indulgences he always did.”

Some ask for lumpsum, some for advance amount for the next 10 years of a pet’s life

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The maintenance amount can get steep, too, for the gourmet food, pet clinic trips, grooming at the pet spa, doctor’s home visits etc. But that hasn’t thwarted people, says Shah. “Couples ask upfront any amount between 15K-25K. They say, ‘Either pay a lumpsum monthly or pay me an annual amount, but this is the expense for the pet and it has to be paid’. I have a client who said, ‘The normal average age for a dog is about 14 years, so please pay me for the coming 10 years for the upkeep of the pet’. So, people calculate do math and figure out maintenance just as they would for themselves. There is also nothing in the statutory law to clarify issues like this and codification for their upkeep and maintenance, but these ‘asks’ are definitely coming up.”
And what happens if anyone refuses to pay? “Then it becomes a bone of contention where one person threatens to take the other to police station and court over it.”

WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?
According to Shah, “Statutory law has no clarifications for such issues, or codification for pets’ upkeep and maintenance.” So, what happens if one refuses to pay? “Often, one person threatens to take the matter to the police or court.”

End of the article

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