Who Will Get the Pet During a Divorce?

puppy dog looking at camera

Whether you adopted your pet before you got married or decided to get a pet after you and your spouse tied the knot, your animal is likely a significant part of your life. As such, it’s necessary to understand what will happen when you and your spouse decide to divorce. For many, wondering what will happen to their furry friend is anxiety-inducing. However, the law may be on your side. Keep reading to learn how California handles these matters and why you must connect with a Los Angeles divorce attorney to explore your legal options regarding your pet during a divorce.

Does California Treat Pets Like Property?

Though many consider their pets a part of their family, many states don’t agree. The majority of states view pets as property.

However, California adopted new laws within the past few years to determine how pets are handled during a divorce. As such, a law has determined that pets are no longer treated like any other physical property, like artwork or a vehicle. Instead, the courts must now view pets differently from other assets. Though they are still considered property, the courts must consider what is in the best interest of the pet during a divorce.

What Factors Influence Who Keeps a Pet During a Divorce?

Not unlike child custody, the courts will consider several factors when determining what will happen to a pet during a divorce. As such, the courts will consider the following elements when making a decision:

  • Who the primary caregiver for the pet is (walks, feeds, bathes, plays with)
  • Who financially cares for the pet
  • Who would take the pet for medical care
  • Who has the necessary space in a new home to care for the animal properly
  • The emotional connection the animal and owners have

You should also note that even if you can prove ownership, meaning you were the one who paid the adoption fees, this will not automatically grant you custody. This will be taken into consideration but does not supersede all other elements.

It’s important to note, however, that until final ownership is determined through the courts, the court can issue an order to determine who will care for the pet. Additionally, if the owners can agree, the courts may be able to acknowledge and enforce a valid custody plan.

Can an Attorney Help Me?

Going through a divorce can be challenging, but discovering you may lose custody of your pet on top of everything can be devastating. As such, doing what you can to gather evidence to show why it’s in the animal’s best interest to reside with you or to negotiate a pet custody plan is critical. However, trying to do this on your own can be overwhelming, so it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through these matters.

When you need help with any aspect of your divorce, from handling complex assets to fighting for your furry friend, the Zitser Family Law Group, APC, can help. We understand how difficult these matters can be, which is why we will handle the legal complexities of your case so you can focus on the next chapter of your life. Connect with us today to learn more.

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