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Pet Custody

Pets are often beloved members of families, and they can be the focus of fiery disputes whenever married pet owners divorce in Colorado. Just like other aspects of a dissolution case, pet custody disputes can be resolved in a number of ways. Understanding how Colorado divorce laws treat pet custody disputes can help you figure out your options whenever it’s time to end a marriage and determine where the pet’s future home will be.

At The Cossitt Law Firm, LLC, our Colorado divorce lawyers have deep experience with various disputes in dissolution cases, including those involving pet custody. We know how important pets are to their owners, especially as families evolve. We also know how to help our clients strategically protect their rights and interests in divorce disputes, both in and outside the courtroom.  

Call (970) 488-1887 or email our firm for a free, 100% confidential consultation. Phone and Skype consultations are available.

How Does Colorado Divorce Law Handle Shared Pets?

Pets are viewed as marital property, under Colorado law. This means that pets, like the marital home and other assets, are subject to equitable division. It also means that:

  • Separate versus community property rules apply: So, if one party owned a pet prior to the marriage, the pet may be considered to be that party’s separate property and, therefore, would not be subject to equitable division as part of a divorce.

  • Divorcing parties have the power to come to their own agreements: Before going to or outside of court, spouses can work out whatever pet custody arrangement they see fit. When they do, the court doesn’t need to get involved.

  • Spouses can choose to go to mediation: Though it’s not right for all couples, mediation can be a highly effective way to resolve divorce disputes, including those involving pet custody.

  • Family courts may issue similar orders as they do in property division disputes: Namely, the court may issue orders for one party to buy the other out, both parties to sell the pet, or both parties to find a new home for the pet.

Here, it’s important to understand that different family courts in Colorado may take a slightly different approach to disputes over pet custody. For example, some judges may be open to considering pet custody disputes in a similar light as child custody disputes, evaluating them based on “best interest” factors and each party’s relationship with the pet in question.

In these circumstances, a judge may be inclined to consider specifics, like (but not limited to):

  • Who provides more or primary care for the pet
  • Who has paid or has the ability to pay for the pet’s vet bills
  • Whether visitation with each owner is feasible or a good idea

An experienced Colorado family lawyer will know how different courts and local judges view pet custody disputes and, consequently, can be helpful in advising which jurisdictions may be preferable (when there are options about where to file for divorce).

How Can I Avoid a Pet Custody Battle?

There can be several options for avoiding future pet custody battles, depending on your circumstances. Generally, the best way to head off these disputes is to create a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement that defines the terms of pet custody.

If it’s too late for that, it’s best to consult an attorney. While there may be ways to come to a settlement out of court, a lawyer can point out the best options for proceeding, based on your situation and objectives.

Get Answers to All of Your Questions About Pet Custody & Colorado Divorce

Whether you are considering or in the middle of a divorce in Colorado, the sooner you contact The Cossitt Law Firm, LLC, the better.

The truth is that pet custody can be just one of several battles that may be on the horizon in an upcoming divorce. When you want to be confident that you have exceptional representation when it’s time to assert your rights and protect what matters most, it’s time to call The Cossitt Law Firm, LLC.

Call (970) 488-1887 or email our firm for a free, 100% confidential consultation.

No matter how complicated your case may be, we are here for you, and we’re ready to put our experience, know-how, and commitment to work providing you with top-quality representation every step of the way. From offices in Fort Collins, we represent clients throughout Larimer County and the state of Colorado.


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