In Wheat Ridge, Arvada, and Golden, there is no specific statute that discusses pet custody. In fact, under law, pets are considered property, so there is no real standard on how to treat family dogs and cats in a divorce. While many people feel their pet is like a child to them, pets are not equivalent to children in the Jefferson County Court. Because of this, a judge cannot order a cat or dog custody hearing. It just doesn’t work that way. Instead pets are added to the list of marital property, like your house, financial accounts, and photographs.
How Is Pet Custody Decided in a Jefferson County Divorce?
Unfortunately, a Jefferson County judge has no way of knowing which party in a divorce deserves the pet. In a child custody hearing, the judge can ask the child their thoughts about who they want to live with, but it is not possible in a pet situation. Sometimes, if a judge is willing, some testimony can be entered showing who chose the pet and who primarily cared for the pet. Also, a judge may take the children into consideration allowing a pet to reside at the home where the children live the majority of the time. This would only be necessary if the pet custody is a contested issue in the divorce – left up to the judge to make the final decision.
What Can Be Done to Decide Pet Custody Outside of Court?
If you don’t want to leave the decision about who gets to keep the pet up to the judge, there are some things you are your spouse can try to settle the dispute:
- Written Agreement – Spouses can create a stipulated written agreement that outlines the schedule for the pets and how bills related to the pets are to be paid. This takes some compromise and agreeing, which is not always easy when tensions are high.
- Arbitration – You and your spouse can hire an arbitrator to hear testimony from anyone who can provide meaningful information regarding the pet and review documents. The arbitrator could even request to observe how the pet interacts with each spouse.
Either way, you don’t want to face this process alone. You should have a knowledgeable divorce lawyer who can outline all your options and help you decide what’s in your best interest.
If you are in the process of preparing for a divorce in Wheat Ridge or Jefferson County, contact the best family law attorneys from the Pearman Law Firm for a free initial phone consultation at 720-259-9528 or today.
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