When a married couple decides to call it quits, they often battle over property, spousal support and custody of the children. For many people, deciding who gets to keep the family pet can be one of the most difficult issues they will face throughout the divorce process. In the past, courts often treated dogs and other domestic animals as community property, essentially putting them in the same category as a piece of furniture.
However, treating pets like property during a divorce is no longer an option. Many people nowadays view pets as a member of the family, so courts have decided to treat them as such. A new California law that went into effect in January 2019, allows courts to evaluate the best interests of the animal before determining who the animal should stay with. Based on its evaluation, courts can assign sole or joint ownership of the pet.
Courts can make decisions relating to custody and visitation of the pet, the care of the pet and the monetary support for the pet. The court can look at various factors when making these determinations, including the needs of the pet, the financial status of both spouses and which spouse was primarily responsible for the pet’s care during the marriage.
Families can get emotional when it comes to making decisions about the beloved family pet. However, it is important that divorcing spouses work together to come up with an agreement that works best for the pet. If the couple is unable to come to a decision, the court will address the pet custody issue during the divorce process. A divorce attorney can review your case and address all issues relating to your divorce, including the issue of pet custody.