Pet Custody: "What Will Happen to My Dog?"

Are you wondering what will happen to your furry loved ones during the course of your divorce? You aren't the only one. In fact, increasingly throughout the state of California, splitting couples have been coming to blows over who will be able to keep their pets following the dissolution of their marriage. Unfortunately, there are no explicit pet custody laws in the state of California like there are for the custody of human children.

Instead, pets are considered to be "personal property," and the courts only have the authority to award the pet to either one owner or the other. There is typically no explicit option for shared custody or visitation rights, in the same way that the law would not offer shared custody for a television, computer, or new car.

Often, such cases are determined by who originally adopted or purchased the animal. That, however, is not the only thing that the courts will consider. Depending on the case, the following may be considered:

  • Would moving cause stress for a senior animal?
  • Would moving separate the animal from its companions?
  • Would moving involve the stress of long-distance travel?
  • Would the animal be subjected to animal-related statutes?

All of the above, including the animals relationships with its owners, will be taken into account by the court, as well as community property laws. Despite the lack of pet custody specific laws, courts are beginning to adjust their approach to such cases and are often working with splitting couples to come up with unique shared custody or visitation plans. If the court is unwilling, owners may be able to work out a contract themselves.

For this reason, if you are seeking to keep custody of your animal following a divorce, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced family law attorney from a firm you can trust. Call today!

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