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Who Gets Custody of the Pets after Divorce?

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01095541Pets are children too ”“ ask anyone who owns one. They need food, shelter and love all the same. And because owners get attached to their pets, a divorce can lead to contention between the divorcing parties over who gets to keep the little ones.

Under Colorado law, pets are not considered family ”“ harsh as it sounds, they are characterized as items of personal property and thus are subject to equitable division of assets. You read correctly ”“ you can lose your dog or cat just as easily as you can lose the flat screen TV.

Deciding Pet Custody in Colorado

As a general rule, the judge presiding over your divorce case will try to avoid having to choose who keeps the animals. Pet disputes can get ugly, just like child custody battles, and the judge will often advise the divorcing parties that if they cannot agree on pet custody, they will have to get rid of the pet. Some judges with softer hearts may consider the pet’s best interest, but it is up to you to figure out your judge’s feelings toward pet custody.

If you are involved in a divorce and pet custody becomes an issue, it is important to put aside ill feelings toward the other party and focus yourself on what would be best for the pet. Pets, like children, should never be used as a way of manipulating or hurting the other party.

Another way to decide pet custody even before a divorce arises is to draft an “antenuptial” pet custody agreement. An agreement like this would consider who would get the pet in the event of a divorce, whether the other party would have visitation and what a visitation schedule might look like, how pet expenses will be covered, responsibility for big medical decisions and end-of-life considerations for the pet.

Divorce Matters ”“ Denver Family Law Attorneys