Southern California Family Law

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Southern California Family Law

Who Gets the Pet in a Divorce?

Custody - October 12, 2020

Who Gets the Pet in a Divorce?

When most people think about the major issues negotiated in a California divorce, they consider matters of spousal support, property division, child custody and child support. What about when a family has a beloved pet? Who gets the pet in a divorce? Up to 80% of pet owners view their pets as part of their family, according to a survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and California is on the forefront of pet custody laws in divorce cases. To learn more about how the custody of your pet may be determined, call or contact the Simpson Law Group today.

California Pet Custody Law

Beginning in 2019, California requires that courts consider the well-being of pets in a divorce case. Unlike most other states that still categorize pets as personal property, California is one of the few states that recognizes the significant role that pets play in our lives.  

As a community property state, the issue of pet custody applies when the dog, cat, or pet in question is considered a piece of marital, or community, property. If the pet was acquired by one spouse prior to the marriage, that pet may be considered separate property and could be return to that spouse at the end of the divorce case. When a couple acquires a pet during the course of the marriage, however, the court may be required to intervene to determine custody of the pet based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Questions Considered in Determining Custody

If a divorcing couple cannot agree as to which party will take ownership of the pet at the end of the divorce case, the court must make a determination of custody by weighing a number of questions regarding the pet’s care. Some of the most commonly asked questions include:

  • Who feeds the pet?
  • Who adopted the pet?
  • Who purchases food, toys and other things for the pet?
  • Who walks the pet?
  • Who takes the pet to the vet?
  • Who protects the pet?
  • Who spends the most time with the pet?
  • Have there been allegations of domestic abuse or abuse of the pet?

In order to make the best possible argument about why you should keep the family pet in a divorce, maintaining records and providing evidence is critical. 

Who Gets the Pet in a Divorce? Talk to Our Office Today.

Many pets are considered members of the family, and deciding who should retain custody of a pet in a divorce can be an emotionally fraught and stressful issue. To learn more about your legal options, call the office or contact us today at the Simpson Law Group in Glendale to schedule a case consultation. 

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