Each couple who decides to end their marriage will have a distinct set of priorities. For parents, child custody issues will be of the utmost importance. Other families will focus on the division of marital property. For some couples, however, the primary concern involves the family pets, and which party will be allowed to keep a beloved dog or animal after the divorce.
Many Colorado couples are surprised to learn that the family court system is often unwilling to include "pet custody" matters within a divorce proceeding. Spouses are usually expected to work the issue out on their own. When a court does weigh in on the topic, the determination often rests upon which party acquired the animal or paid for the bulk of its care.
When working through the process of determining where a pet should reside, spouses should try to approach the matter in the same way as child custody. In many cases, one party has historically provided the bulk of care for an animal, and that individual is often the best choice to retain the pet after a divorce. When children are involved, it is often best to allow the pet to remain in the home where the kids will reside.
Colorado families who are struggling over their pets should make every effort to remove the emotional component of the issue and focus on what is best for the animals. Divorce involves a great many changes, and adjusting to a new household arrangement is part of that process. It is impractical to fully "share" custody of a dog or cat, and one party is likely going to have to make the difficult decision to let the animal move on to a different household.
Source: Huffington Post, Who Gets the Family Dog After Divorce?, Nancy Kay, Nov. 10, 2013