Getting divorced is emotionally taxing and stressful. This stress is only compounded when it comes to figuring out who gets custody of family pets. While child custody laws and procedures are well established, the same can’t be said about custody of family pets.
Who Gets Pet Custody in a Colorado Divorce?
There are no specific laws about pet custody in Colorado; thus, pet custody is handled on a case-by-case basis in court. While your pet(s) may be like your children, pets are typically treated like property in a divorce.
Colorado is an equitable distribution state, which means property and assets will be divided in a fair—not necessarily equal—way. When dividing property, it is put into two categories: marital or separate property. Separate property remains your own.
Marital property, however, will be split. According to C.R.S § 114-10-133, marital property is all the property obtained by both parties throughout their marriage, excluding property:
- Received by gift, bequest, devise, or descent
- Obtained in exchange for property acquired before the marriage
- Obtained in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent
- Attained by a spouse after a decree of legal separation
- Excluded by a valid agreement made by both parties
A lot of factors are weighed in the division of property, and when it comes to determining who gets your pet, the following factors may be considered:
- How much each party contributed to the purchase of the animal
- How much each party invested in the animal’s care
- The value of the other property each party has retained ownership of
- The economic circumstances of each spouse after the division of property is put into effect
How to Ensure You Get Your Pet after Your Divorce
One way to ensure you have custody (full or partial) of your pet is to file for an uncontested divorce. To file uncontested, you and your partner must agree on a lot of issues, including property division.
You might also consider drafting a pre- or post-nuptial agreement that outlines pet custody terms. In either instance, you and your spouse will need to communicate and agree on:
- Who will get residential custody of the pet
- If the other party will get “visitation rights”
- A visitation schedule, which includes how the pet will be transported to the visitation
- If both parties must be involved in major medical decisions involving the pet
- Who will be responsible for pet expenses (i.e., food, grooming, toys, daycare, funeral arrangements)
Legally, pets are considered property, but pets are so much more than that. They’re family. And at the Law Office of Greg Quimby, P.C., we understand the importance of family, considering we are a family practice.
Let us fight for you, your interests, and your family as you navigate your divorce. For a free initial case consultation, call our office at (719) 212-4227 or reach out online.