Pets and Divorce

November 18, 2022

Pets and Divorce

If you are facing a Colorado divorce, you have a wide range of concerns that are addressed specifically by the law. If you and your divorcing spouse share pets and disagree regarding whom they will belong to post-divorce, it can leave you with considerable emotional turmoil. Our pets are a big part of our lives, which makes pets and divorce a primary concern that our dedicated Colorado family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group will guide you through. Call  (720) 445-4444 for a complimentary initial consultation with our experienced attorneys who have the focus to help you resolve favorably.

The Division of Your Marital Property

In a Colorado divorce (according to the Colorado Revised Statutes) the assets that you and your spouse acquire as a married couple must be divided between you equitably upon divorce, which means fairly in relation to a wide range of factors that include:

  • Each spouse’s financial situation
  • Each spouse’s overall contributions to the acquisition of marital assets, including contributions related to homemaking and caring for the children
  • Each spouse’s economic circumstances at the time of the divorce
  • Any increase or decrease in the value of separate property and the degree to which separate assets were used for marital purposes

Separate assets refer to those properties that either spouse owned at the time of the marriage and kept separate over the course of the marriage, which can be difficult to accomplish. It is interesting to note that – because Colorado is a no-fault divorce state – wrongdoing by either spouse generally does not play a role in the division of marital property.

Your Pets and Divorce

While the division of marital property may seem remote when it comes to the matter of your pets and divorce, the fact is that Colorado Laws do not directly address how pets factor into divorce, and as a result, they generally fall under the category of marital assets. While your pets obviously mean much more to you than things you can attach prices to, this is, nevertheless, the legal venue for determining who will retain custody of your beloved pets upon divorce.

The Colorado Court’s Stance

While many factors go into the determination of how your marital assets will be divided upon divorce, the matter becomes more focused when it is time to address your pets. Factors such as which one of you purchased or obtained the pet in question and which one of you was more invested in caring for it over the years often come into play.

In other words, there is no perfect legal formula to determine whom your family pets should go to in your divorce, which makes leaving the matter up to the court somewhat precarious. It is next to impossible to guess how the court will rule on this very subjective matter. If you are facing a concern related to your pets and divorce, the dedicated family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group can help you attempt to retain custody of the pets that mean so much to you.

Resolving the Terms of Your Divorce

Every divorce faces the same terms (as applicable), including:

  • Child custody arrangements
  • Child support (as calculated by the Colorado Office of Economic Security’s Division of Child Support Services)
  • The division of marital property
  • Alimony

The court will almost certainly accept each of these terms that you and your spouse are able to resolve together, and any that remain will be determined by the court. As such, if you and your spouse can negotiate the division of your marital property – including who will have custody of your pets or how you will divide your time with your pets – you will not need the court to weigh in on the matter.

Even if you are not able to completely resolve the equitable division of your marital property, the court is almost certain to sign off on an agreement between you regarding custody of your pets. While you and your divorcing spouse are unlikely to see eye-to-eye on much at this stage in the process, reaching a détente regarding your family pets could save you a lot of time, legal expense, and heartache – not to mention the fact that it keeps this primary concern between yourselves and out of the court’s purview.

Considering a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

One tool Colorado offers for legally addressing the matter of pets is prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. These are legal contracts that allow couples to determine how specific matters, such as the division of their marital property or alimony will be resolved in the event of divorce.

The distinction between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement is when the contract is created and executed. A prenuptial agreement is created prior to the wedding, and it goes into effect upon marriage, while a postnuptial agreement is created and executed during the marriage.

The matter of child custody, which is always based on the children’s best interests at the time, cannot be addressed in your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, but because pets are considered marital property, you can include their custody arrangements. This means that if your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement spells out the terms regarding your pets that will apply in divorce, the court is may implement them.

Discuss Your Concerns Regarding Pets and Divorce with an Experienced Colorado Family Law Attorney

You, of course, do not think of your pets as things, but Colorado courts do not have the tools to consider them otherwise when it comes to your pets and divorce. The compassionate Colorado family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group recognize how much your pets mean to you and are committed to helping you strategize a favorable path forward that works for you and your family. Your pets cannot be quantified in terms of marital assets, and we are here to help ensure that they are not. To learn more about how we can help, please do not delay reaching out and contacting or calling us today by using (720) 463-4333 for calls or (720) 730-4558 for text-to-chat.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
Our experience, dedication to Colorado families, and our success in each case we represent sets us apart from the competition. We are passionate about family and estate law. Our highly-qualified team will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible results in your case.


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