Child Custody & Visitation
How Do California Courts Handle Pets in a Divorce?

How Do California Courts Handle Pets in a Divorce?

Date: Jan 23, 2024
In: Child Custody & Visitation

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How Do California Courts Handle Pets in a Divorce?

Divorce can be a tumultuous process, with emotions running high and many important decisions to be made. Among these decisions is the determination of who gets custody of beloved pets. At Miranda, Magden & Miranda, we understand that pets are considered part of the family, and their welfare is a matter of importance. In this blog, we delve into how California courts handle pets in a divorce, outlining the laws, procedures, and factors considered by the court and offering practical advice for pet owners navigating this challenging time.

Laws and Procedures

Prior to 2019, pets were treated as property in California divorce cases. However, the landscape changed with a new law enacted in January 2019, allowing judges to consider the care and best interests of the pet when making decisions in separation or divorce matters. While pets are still technically classified as personal property, they are now treated differently, with shared custody agreements and temporary orders being issued to ensure the pet’s well-being during the divorce process.

Factors Considered in Pet Custody

When determining pet custody, California courts take into consideration various factors to ensure the pet’s best interests are met. Some factors include the primary caregiver of the pet during the marriage, the ability of each spouse to care for the pet, the living situation and environment of each spouse, the bond between the pet and each spouse, the pet’s well-being and quality of life in each potential home, and any history of abuse or neglect. It becomes imperative for pet owners to provide evidence of their ability to care for the pet and demonstrate their commitment to its well-being.

Practical Advice for Pet Owners

For pet owners going through a divorce, prioritizing the pet’s needs is crucial. Document your involvement in your pet’s care, including vet visits, training sessions, and daily routines. Consider mediation as an alternative to litigation, which allows for a co-created custody arrangement that benefits your pet. Consult with a family law attorney who understands the nuances of pet custody cases in California. They can provide valuable advice and advocate for your pet’s best interests. Create a detailed pet custody agreement that outlines visitation schedules, financial responsibilities, and any specific care instructions. Lastly, focus on providing a stable and nurturing environment for your pet.

Contact Us for Guidance

Each divorce case is unique, and the outcome regarding pet custody will depend on the specific circumstances and the judge’s discretion. While the new law provides guidance, there is still room for interpretation. 

At Miranda, Magden & Miranda, our mission is to serve each of our client’s legal needs with the utmost dedication, ensuring smooth navigation through what may be rough waters ahead. If you’re facing a divorce and have concerns about pet custody, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to provide personalized legal services and help protect what matters most to you and your family.

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