Dog owners often consider their pooch to be “man’s best friend.” Other people have a beloved cat, parrot or other pet. Pet ownership is greatly rewarding, and most pet owners consider their animals to be part of the family. However, what happens to the pet when its married owners decide to divorce?
It may seem harsh, but in most states, Colorado included, pets are considered property, not unlike the sofa or toaster. Thus, just like these household items, they are subject to the property division process in the event of a divorce. Colorado is an equitable distribution state when it comes to the division of assets, meaning property is divided based on what is deemed fair, even if it doesn’t mean an exact 50-50 split.
This is troublesome when it comes to a pet to whom both partners may have an extremely emotional attachment. One spouse may try to gain the upper hand in the property division process knowing the other deeply cares for the pet over other assets, or the two spouses may be locked in a battle over who gets to keep their beloved pet following the split.
Ultimately, this may seem highly unfair both for the pet owners and the pet itself. Thus, some couples are entering into “pet prenups” — that is — including provisions on pet ownership in their prenuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement can contain provisions on who is to care for the pet should the parties divorce during the pet’s lifetime, and it can even include a “pet custody and visitation” schedule, wherein both parties get to spend some time with the pet in their care should they divorce.
In the end, pet parents need to make sure they’re keeping their pets needs in mind if they divorce, so that the pet can continue being cared for and loved. Whether this is done through a prenup or an agreed-upon settlement, pets deserve to be loved by those who care for them, even if their owners divorce.