What Happens to Your Pets in a Divorce?

If you are going through a divorce and have a pet, you are likely worried about what will happen to your pet during your divorce. The fact is that more and more pet owners consider the bond between owners and their furry (or scaly!) friends to be just as important as the ones they share with their human family members. Because of this, couples going through divorce are finding that pet ownership is increasingly becoming a source of conflict that the law isn’t entirely equipped to handle.

Pets as Property

Even when people's bonds with their pets goes beyond traditional notions of ownership, that is exactly how the law sees it. When the court is presented with a couple who cannot agree about who will take their pet after their divorce, it is treated as an issue of property ownership and not an issue of custody. So while you may think of your cat as your child, the courts’ legal mechanisms have yet to catch up with the sentimental connection between you and your pet.

In Colorado, pets are viewed as a piece of property during divorce proceedings and don't have the same legal status that children do. This means couples must divide any pets according to the rules that govern property.

This means pets are subject to equitable distribution during a divorce like other assets. Whether the pet was purchased or adopted before or after marriage is important in determining if it's marital property. If your dog was adopted before marriage, for instance, the person who is on the adoption papers would likely be granted the pet as part of their separate property. However, if your dog was adopted after the marriage, it would be considered a marital asset and the court would have to decide how to fairly divide all of your assets, including your dog, between the two of you.

Negotiate an Agreement Out of Court

As with other assets, it’s likely going to be better for you and your ex to come to an agreement about your pet outside of court rather than to allow the court to decide for you. Whenever possible, an amicable compromise between you and your spouse about who will take your pet or how you will divide “custody” of your pet will allow you both to exercise some control over the outcome.

An informal agreement outside of the courtroom can also save you time and money. A divorce attorney who is experienced in navigating through this sensitive issue can help you to negotiate a fair agreement.

It's vital that you have an experienced divorce attorney you can trust to help guide you through this and other sensitive issues that will likely arise during your divorce proceedings. At the Law Office of Alexandra White, PC, our team is dedicated to protecting our clients’ interests and helping them navigate this difficult time so that they can move forward with their lives.

Reach out to us online or call us at (303) 647-4245 to schedule a consultation.