California divorce attorney, California mediation lawyerWhen a pet-owning couple goes through a divorce, which spouse retains custody of the animals can be a contentious issue. While many people consider pets to be part of the family, California law considers pets to be property.

California has many laws on child custody, but it has no laws that specifically govern what happens to pets when owners divorce. For this reason, a court will not rule on a custody agreement for animals the way it would if there are children involved. Instead, it may consider the pet to be an asset of the marriage, much the same way a car or computer would be considered.

Because of this, many people find that mediation is a better way to resolve pet custody issues. With mediation, the parties are not bound to treat their divorce the same way a court would. In mediation, a pet would not automatically be classified as property. Rather, a pet’s best interest and well-being could be considered. In a mediation, a pet would be treated as a member of the family who is also affected by the changes that come with divorce.

A mediator may consider the following in coming to a custody arrangement:

An agreement you make may include:

It should be noted that in any situation in which there is domestic abuse, California Family Code Section 6320(b) provides that an animal can be protected under domestic violence restraining orders if there is a reason to believe that a pet may be at risk of physical harm.

If you are going through a divorce, and believe that pet custody may become an issue, mediation can resolve this dispute. Contact the San Jose divorce attorney, located in Los Gatos, at the Ventresca Law Firm today at 408-395-8822 for a free initial consultation.