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How Does California Law Address Who Keeps Pets in a Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

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Many people consider their pets to be like their own children, so what happens to the family pet when couples divorce? In the past, pets would be treated like any other non-living property in a California divorce. Though previously given the same consideration as a piece of furniture or a car, the understanding that people share special relationships with their pets prompted California lawmakers to change how pet custody is treated.

A law passed last year dictates that the well-being of an animal or animals owned by a couple must be considered when parties cannot agree on who will keep the animals following divorce. California was the third state in the U.S. to pass such a law, and it went into effect on January 1 of this year.

What Does the Law Mean for Pet Parents?

Courts will decide who gets the family pet when there is an ongoing dispute in a divorce case. In some cases, they may also set up shared custody agreements for the animals which must be followed by the divorcing parties until ownership is finally determined.

What Factors Go Into Decisions About Pet Ownership?

According to the previous law, one of the first considerations was the financial transaction. The person who paid for the animal, whether or not it was through adoption, would typically keep the animal after the divorce was finalized. Now, in the case of a disagreement, a judge will be tasked with addressing the well-being of the animal and deciding who is the better choice to continue as the pet’s owner.

Similar to the process of determining child custody, the courts will consider evidence to evaluate which party will provide the best life for the pet. Relevant factors may include who generally cared for the pet in the past, who has the better home environment for the pet, and who can afford the proper food and vet care.

Contact a Knowledgeable Los Gatos Property Division Attorney

While the new laws for pet custody may not be as strict as those for child custody cases, they now go deeper than past property laws followed in divorce cases. The Law Offices of Benita Ventresca can assist in finding the best solution for the ownership of your pet during your divorce. Contact our experienced Los Gatos, CA divorce attorney to discuss your options and build a case for why you should be able to keep your family pet. Call 408-395-8822 to set up a free consultation today.

Sources:

https://aldf.org/article/californias-new-pet-custody-law-differentiates-companion-animals-from-other-types-of-property/



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