It is not always easy deciding where the family pet will live post-divorce. A family’s pet can have a huge impact in both owner’s lives and decisions about pet custody in divorce can be contentious. Pets are loyal and provide companionship to their owners. This type of bond can cause strife when both parties are unable to agree to who will receive pet custody in divorce.

In California, pets are considered property in the eyes of the law. In cases of pet custody in divorce or separation, the pet will go to the party who demonstrates proof of purchase or adoption.  A pet can either be considered separate property or community property. If the pet is deemed separate property, the court will award pet custody to the party that purchased/adopted the animal. If the pet was bought during the marriage, the court may order the custodial party to compensate the other party with the value and cost of the pet. It is not uncommon for some judges to also consider what is in the best interest of the pet. Factors such as who cares for the pet and where the pet will be most comfortable may be taken into consideration when determining pet custody in divorce.

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pet custody in divorce

Pet owners should decide who will have pet custody in divorce without the court’s involvement. Pet owners can go to mediation and have a neutral third-party help them reach an agreement. If a party is the victim of domestic violence, Family Law Code § 6320 (b) provides for the safety and protection of pets during a domestic violence dispute. Under this Family Law Code, the court can award the care, possession, or control of a pet to one party over the other.  The court can restrain a party from harming the animal and may even prevent a party from coming within a certain distance of the animal.  This shows the Family Law Code is aligned with the love and appreciation people have towards their animals.

When purchasing or adopting a pet, get proof of ownership. This will prove your property interest in the pet should pet custody in divorce become an issue down the road. You can also draft a premarital agreement with your spouse or partner to clarify who will receive pet custody in divorce.  Pets are devoted and loving to their owners.  They show their love and appreciation by being obedient to the one that provides and cares for them. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about pet custody in divorce. We offer low-cost divorce documentation services and can help to draft an agreement that addresses the issue of pet custody in your divorce proceedings. Call us at 800-747-2780 for more information about how we can help!

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