Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) December 10, 2012 – Pet owners often think of their pets as members of their family.
This can be an issue during a divorce for both parties. The much beloved pet in a marriage may become a pawn if the divorce turns acrimonious.
“Some people do consider their pet like a member of their family,” says Bill Thode, Denver divorce attorney. “But under Colorado law, when working out custody and divorce issues, pets are considered personal property.” Generally, judges prefer to not become involved in pet disputes. They may advise both parties to work to determine “custody,” or to rehome the pet, if they cannot agree.
If a consensus cannot be reached by both parties, the decision may be made by the court. If, for example, one spouse had ownership of a dog prior to the marriage, the dog would likely be instructed by the court to remain with that person when the marriage is dissolved.
However, if it can be convincingly argued that one party was the primary care taker of the dog – walking, feeding, cleaning up after it, taking it to vet visits — and that role can be proven in court, there is a good chance the dog will be awarded to that individual. Also, if the other party will not be around in any real capacity due to work or traveling, the other party is in a good position to argue that primary ownership should be awarded to them. In the best interest of the children, the dog may be awarded to the primary parent, to prevent hardship and loss to the children.
If there was a prenuptial agreement which included who would get custody of the dog in the event of a divorce, then there should be no argument. If not, it is advised that both parties work out a visitation program, deciding on everything from shared time with the pet, how medical issues will be decided and how medical bills will be split.
Before a beloved pet becomes a pawn in divorce proceedings, it behooves everyone to do what is in the best interest of the pet.
Thode Law Firm, P.C.
201 Steele Street, Suite 201
Denver, CO 80206
Call: (303) 330-0425