Pets and Divorce: Who Gets the Pet in a California Divorce?

Pets are often considered a member of the family, yet in many states they are not treated as such during a divorce. Thankfully, California law recognizes the importance of pets and gives special consideration to the issue when a couple cannot agree on who should get the pet after the divorce. At Kearney Baker in Pasadena, our knowledgeable divorce attorneys understand how much a pet can mean to you and will zealously advocate for your rights to your pet in a divorce case. To learn more about pets and divorce, call or contact our office today.

Traditional Pet Law

In most states, a pet is not seen as a member of the family during a divorce. In 47 states, a pet is treated as another piece of personal property that must be distributed between spouses during a divorce. If one spouse brought the pet into the marriage, it is considered separate property and goes back to that spouse. If the pet is obtained during the marriage, the spouses must negotiate who gets the pet like any other piece of inanimate furniture or other property.

California’s Pets and Divorce Law

Thankfully, California recently recognized the special place that pets have in a family and treat them with special consideration during a divorce. Typically, a judge will encourage spouses to negotiate who will get the pet in the divorce or work out a joint custody arrangement for the pet. If the couple cannot agree, a California judge can use special assessments to determine which spouse is deserving of custody of the animal.

How to Prove that You Deserve the Pet

In contested pet custody cases, the court will review a number of questions to determine which spouse should retain custody of the pet after the divorce. Some of the typical questions asked include the following:

  • Who feeds the pet?
  • Who walks, exercises, or plays with the pet?
  • Who takes the pet to veterinary visits?
  • Who’s name is on the adoption papers or bill of sale?
  • Who spends more time with the pet?
  • Who makes the majority of purchases for the pet?
  • Has there been any allegations of abuse by either spouse of the pet?

Maintaining records and receipts can be used as critical evidence in a pet custody case. Keep all records of vet visits, food, toys, and other purchases, records of daily walks or exercise, and photo or video evidence of spending time and playing with the pet. Adoption records and more can all be used to prove to the court that you deserve to maintain custody of your furry family member after a divorce is finalized. To learn more, talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today.

Talk to Our Office about Pets and Divorce

Do you have concerns about who will get the pet in your California divorce? If so, you need the experienced divorce attorneys at Kearney Baker in Pasadena representing your interests in the case. Call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation now.