During your divorce, the things that you and your spouse own will be governed by California’s property division laws. If you have children, your San Bernardino divorce lawyer will help you draft a child custody agreement that’s fair to everyone involved, and everything else will fall into place. But what happens to the family dog?
Pet custody battles are becoming more and more common, but under California law, companion animals are treated the same way as personal property.
Arranging Pet Custody
Most pet owners agree that their companion animals are part of their families. It’s not always easy for a pair of loving owners to make a choice about where a pet will be better off living, but sharing custody isn’t always feasible, either. One of you may be moving to an apartment that doesn’t allow dogs, or you or your ex might not have the finances to support a pet with veterinary bills, grooming and other expenses.
The judge can decide who gets the family pets, but like with all other aspects of divorce, it’s best if you and your ex can come to your own agreement. While judges do their best to make the wisest choices, someone is likely to come out of it unhappy; remember, pets are treated as personal property under California law, which means that the judge can’t create a visitation schedule.
If you have children who are attached to your family pets, it’s often best to keep them together. Kids need familiarity, particularly during divorce, and separating them might cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Even if you’re not extremely attached to the pets, your kids might be – and keeping them all under one roof is usually the smartest choice.
No matter what, you probably aren’t too excited about the prospect of losing custody of your companion animals. Talk to your attorney; he or she might suggest mediation so that you and your ex can come up with a good solution that’s fair for everyone involved.