Property division in divorce includes beloved pets

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2014 | Property Division

While many pet owners feel as though their pets are members of the family, the law simply does not see it the same way. Colorado families who are considering divorce need to realize that while people are often emotionally attached to their pets, they are subject to the same laws that cover all marital assets. As far as the courts are concerned, pets are part of the property division that occurs in most divorces.

Nearly two-thirds of American households have a pet. Many couples treat their pets similarly to the way they would treat children — whether they have actual children or not. People spend a great deal of money on their care and derive pleasure from the love they feel they receive in return. When a couple decides to divorce, there may be questions on how to divide the pet care between the two spouses or some may decide to pursue sole custody of a pet the way they might for children. As far as the legal system is concerned, though, pets are a possession.

A woman in another state found this out after her divorce from her husband. Initially, they had agreed to share custody of their dog. When her ex prevented her from having visitation, she attempted to have the court enforce their custody arrangement. Unfortunately, she was told that since her ex-husband owned the dog before they were married and it was considered property, she had no legal rights to see what she considered to be her pet.

Most families — including those in Colorado — love their animals and only want what is best for them. Experts in animal welfare want it known to all couples considering divorce that it is imperative to the pet’s health to work out a visitation arrangement to the best of everyone’s ability. Divorce can sometimes affect pets in similar ways to a child — the pet may become upset or anxious. It may be in the best interest of the pet for it to live with just one of its parents. If a couple cannot come to an agreement, they may need to seek the assistance of a court, but need to be aware that the pet will be considered part of property division.

Source: Huffington Post, Who Gets The Pets In A Divorce? What You Need To Consider When Fighting Over Fido, Taryn Hillin, Jan. 19, 2014