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Who Gets Custody of the Pets in a Colorado Divorce?

black and white catPets can be afforded love and status as a full-fledged family member. This makes it all the more difficult when a married couple splits up when they have a pet. Likely, both spouses consider the pet as almost like a child, especially if they don’t have children of their own. While custody of human children is well established by the courts, you may have questions about what happens to pets in a divorce in Colorado.

The issue is not always clear cut in the eyes of the law. Some judges do not want to meddle in the affairs of animal custody, which leaves an already drained couple with an extra burden. This is why some advise Colorado couples to draft what is called an “ante-nuptial” agreement that is focused on a couple’s non-human children. By setting up in advance what will happen to a family’s furry friends, will avoid a lot of heartbreak and agony later, in an already trying time.

In the absence of one of these agreements, it often gets into the hands of the judges. Researching the case history of a judge in a divorce will yield some insight. Some judges have no desire to enter disputes in the events of pets and will even advise couples to find a new and unconnected home for the pet. Other judges will consider the case of custody of pets similar to the fashion of human children.

An important thing to consider is that Colorado state law considers any animals as personal property and thus subject to the equitable distribution mandated in a lot of family law. This means that while one parent may get custody of the pet, often, there are considerations of visitation and splitting costs like veterinary bills. In terms of who the pet actually lives with, judges will consider the best interest of the animal. For instance, a large and active dog that needs a lot of space may be more likely to go to the party with plenty of space rather than one with limited space.

Both parties in the divorce should agree that the best interests of the pet should come before anything else in deciding this important issue.

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