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How pets affect property division during a divorce

Last week, this Longmont family law blog discussed the importance of understanding the value of one's marital and separate property prior to filing for divorce. The failure of a party to understand the scope of their assets may limit them from leaving their marriage with adequate financial power to thrive on their own. However, as many readers may know, not all property is valued with a price tag. There are some items of personal property that may not monetarily be worth much, but mean much to the hearts and sentiments of their owners.

For example, pets are an item of property that their owners may love more than any retirement account. Though some jurisdictions are starting to see pets not as property, but also as entities in need of their own advocates, most still treat animals as items. As such, pets may be subject to property division laws when their owners decide to end their relationships.

Since a pet cannot be divided and few owners are willing to sell their pets to split the proceeds with their former partners, some turn to custody agreements to decide how they will share in the companionship of their pets. Individuals may create these agreements on their own, though some courts may intervene and help establish the parameters under which the parties must operate to fairly share their furry friends.

A pet is an item of property that exemplifies the importance of an item's sentimental value. For many, pets become parts of their families, and it can be heartbreaking for a person to lose contact with a dog, cat or other animal that they truly love. As with all property and divorce-related inquiries, readers who require support understanding their property rights during divorce are encouraged to contact family law attorneys to discuss their legal needs.

Source: The New York Times, "When Couples Divorce, Who Gets to Keep the Dog? (Or Cat.)," Christopher Mele, March 23, 2017

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