Who Gets to Keep the Pet After a Divorce?

Divorce can tear a family apart, making it a complicated process to go through. Following a divorce, separating couples will have to make several important decisions. Some of the most tedious choices to be made in a divorce include dividing assets and making decisions about child custody.

Typically, property division includes splitting up property like the family home, furniture, income, and any other assets that were acquired during the marriage. For divorcing spouses with children, they have to decide on child custody and visitation rights. However, does the same apply for the family’s pet?

Assembly Bill No. 2274

Previously, in California, companion animals were not considered as children and instead were technically considered community property. This meant they had to be equally divided between each party. The problem with this was that pets are living and breathing creatures; not an inanimate object.

However, last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2274, which allows courts to take into consideration a companion animal’s care in cases of divorce. Additionally, courts can create an order that requires a party to care for the animal before a final determination of ownership is made.

Now when spouses cannot decide who will have ownership of their pet after the divorce is finalized, they can share custody or sole custody can be assigned. The bill states separated spouses can “assign sole or joint ownership of a community property pet animal, taking into consideration the care of the pet animal.”

How Does a Court Decide Pet Custody?

Pets are considered family members for many people, and when a couple gets divorced, it can be confusing deciding who will get to keep their pet. Often, this results in severe conflict because neither party can come to an agreement.

When a court makes a custody decision for a companion animal, they take into consideration the care of the pet. This means the court looks at who ensured the pet was cared for. According to AB 2274, care includes:

  • The prevention of acts of harm or cruelty

  • The provision of food, water, veterinary care, and safe and protected shelter

  • Any other relevant factors

Depending on these answers, the court will then decide custody of the animal. With this bill in place, courts now how more guidelines on how to treat the topic of animals in a divorce case.

Need Help With Your Divorce?

Regardless of whether or not you need help obtaining custody of your pet, the Law Offices of Christopher L. Hoglin, P.C. is always available to assist you during your divorce. Our knowledgeable divorce attorneys are ready to keep your assets safe and ensure your rights are protected during your divorce.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher L. Hoglin, P.C. today at (626) 653-4075 to speak with a divorce attorney today.

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