The end of a marriage may bring various challenges, ranging from child custody and child support to property division. When family pets are involved, pet custody, an unusual divorce issue, may turn into a legal dispute. This applies to all states in the U.S., including California.
Typically, people treat their pets as family members. As the family becomes emotionally attached to the animals, pet custody, in the event of divorce, becomes an issue that needs to be resolved. In fact, a survey released by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers stated that there has been an increasing number of divorces involving pet custody over the last few years.
Pet custody can be settled similarly to property division in divorce. In most cases, family pets are still recognized as property and subject to standard methods of property division, depending on the state's divorce laws. There are divorcing parties who try to come to an agreement regarding which spouse will keep the family pet after divorce. In instances where both parties are unable to come to an agreement, the decision may be up to the state court.
Some courts consider what is in the pet's best long-term interest when it comes to the love, care and attention a pet owner shows toward the animals. Pet support payments and visitation may even be taken into account. The evidence, testimony and a spouse's capability to take care of the pet are factors in determining pet custody as well. There are also cases where the pet custody is awarded to the spouse who lives with the couple's children.
Pet custody can be one of many emotional factors in a California divorce. The decisions made by the divorcing parties could last a lifetime and should not be taken lightly.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Who Gets the Family Dog after Divorce?" Nancy Kay, Nov. 10, 2013