Pet owners know that their four-legged friends are so much more than just animals — they are members of the family. Unfortunately, Colorado law does not see it that way. Pets are treated as just another piece of property when it comes to legal matters. This can spell trouble for pet parents who are going through a divorce, as they may be faced with the possibility of losing contact with their beloved animal altogether.
Since state law does regard pets as property, they generally end up lumped into property division alongside things like furniture and vehicles. This is creating a lot of legal problems, and a survey of lawyers found that 27% reported seeing more couples fighting about pet custody starting in 2015. Of the reported incidents, an overwhelming 88% involved dogs. Another 5% of fights were over cats, 1% were about horses and a final 6% involved other types of pets, such as snakes.
One way to avoid unnecessary fighting and the possibility of losing a pet is to create a pet prenuptial agreement. Commonly referred to as pup nups, a couple can use this type of agreement to proactively address the care and ownership of pets should their marriage end in divorce. A pup nup will generally address how pet parents intend to split custody and ownership of the dog. It should also include how they will handle the cost of care including vet bills, grooming, food and even dog walkers.
Colorado couples usually do not get married with the expectation of filing for divorce in the future, but the reality is that this happens all the time. Being prepared by creating a pup nup does not mean that someone has low expectations of his or her marriage, either. Instead, it indicates that he or she is proactive and committed to the long term well-being of a pet.