For most people, pets are more than just possessions; they are trusted companions and family members. The idea of pets as property does not jive with most people’s experiences with their own beloved pets.
For us as divorce attorneys, it is all the more difficult to explain that in litigation, pets are indeed property. One of my favorite judges (and himself a pet-lover), famously used to say that he kept a quarter on the bench to decide the custody of pets. He was not trying to be callous or cruel: the reality is that Colorado law requires judges to treat pets just like pots and pans: they are property and have to be allocated like property in a divorce.
What does this mean for pet lovers? In short, it means that you will want to discuss with your attorney an alternative to taking to court a dispute about the family pet. It is always possible to come up with an agreement regarding the family pets, and it is even possible to hire a pet-friendly mediator or arbitrator to assist with this decision. Agreements for the pets to rotate between households along with the children are common. Somewhat less common are agreements for pets themselves to rotate between households on a regular interval. What is important to remember is that disputes about pets are the types of disputes that you and your attorney may want to be creative in your approach. The coin flip in the courtroom is likely to lead to hurt feelings, unsatisfactory results, and maybe even unhappy pets.
Here at Broxterman Alicks McFarlane, we are pet lovers. We are familiar with the emotionally-laden decisions that come with dividing our most important assets including our pets, and we are not afraid to be creative in coming up with solutions that work for everyone, including pets themselves. We will be in Glendale Farm Open Space on Saturday September 19, 2015 to participate in the Wag and Trail benefiting the Dumb Friends League. Feel free to come join us!
The information in this post is not legal advice—it is only legal information. To obtain legal advice by hiring the attorneys of Broxterman Alicks McFarlane PC as your counsel, please contact the firm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-331-6432.