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Considering the pet in Colorado divorce proceedings

In the past, deciding who gets custody of the children and who will get the house were two of the biggest decisions when a couple realized their marriage was no longer working. While those issues continue to be important, there is a relatively new issue that is gaining traction in divorce proceedings. It concerns the family pet.

Many families in Colorado have grown attached to their pets and may consider them an important part of the family. Until recently, family court judges treated pets in a divorce much like any other property that needed to be divided. However, a one state changed how pets are to be considered when a couple divorces. Lawmakers in yet another state may take similar action on a bill that was recently introduced.

In many situations, a pet was brought into a marriage by one or the other of the spouses, and if a divorce occurred, the pet simply went with the original owner. Such may no longer be the case since many people become emotionally attached to the animal and are reluctant to part ways after a divorce. The new law in Alaska requires that a court take the well-being of the pet into consideration before awarding custody. Some professionals have suggested that an agreement be drafted when a new pet is brought into the home that clearly stipulates who the primary owner of the pet is to help prevent confusion. 

While many former spouses may attempt to determine a suitable schedule for sharing time with a family pet, pets have typically not been taken into account in the same manner that children have been. Now, if the new trend gains support, one day all judges may be ruling on how custody of the dog will be determined. Colorado residents who are seeking information about the divorce process may choose to consult a family law attorney who can provide guidance in all aspects, including who gets the dog.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Who gets the dog in the divorce?", Matt Linder, March 2, 2017

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