How are pets handled during California divorces?

By |2022-03-30T18:02:35+00:0018 Feb 2019|Categories: Divorce|


Many Americans consider their pets to be a member of their family instead of property. One of the reasons divorcing spouses fight so hard over their furry friends is because they develop an attachment to them. Their dog or cat often does so in return.

This makes it hard to understand how family court judges used to assign the beloved pets of divorcing couples a monetary value and split them up like property — as opposed to sharing custody of them like kids.

The handling of pets in a divorce changed on Jan. 1, 2019, in California though. Now, judges will consider who took your dog or cat to the veterinarian, took them on walks, bought them food or toys, spent time with them or cleaned up after them when deciding whether a spouse should be awarded joint or sole ownership.

California is the third state in the country to change their law about how pets are handled during a divorce. Illinois and Alaska both instituted their own similar statutes in 2017.

A spokesperson with the Humane Society of the United States notes that lawmakers in other states have looked into passing similar legislation since California passed their law. Data published in 2014 by researchers with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers shows the passing of similar laws in other states couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. That year, attorneys reported that pet custody matters being litigated increased by 22 percent over the previous five year period.

All but 12 percent of the cases litigated involved disputes over dogs. Only five percent had to do with cats. The other seven percent of pets fought over included parrots, horses, iguanas, turtles and pythons.

Those numbers have inevitably increased since then.

If there’s one thing that most Orange family law attorneys would want to let those who pose questions know, it would be that while laws may remain constant, their applicability varies depending on each client’s unique situation.

They’d also tell you that the right Orange County divorce lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Entrust the handling of your legal matter to a divorce attorney who is willing to tailor their representation approach to your preferences.

About the Author:

Dorie Anne Rogers - The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC
Dorie A. Rogers, a Family Law Specialist, Certified by the State Bar of California, has been an attorney since 1981 with an exclusive family law practice located in Orange County. She is accepting dissolution cases with support and property issues including the use of forensics to ascertain business value, community interests and to establish monthly case flow analysis. Ms. Rogers has substantial experience in high conflict custody litigation involving sophisticated psychological issues. She drafts premarital and postmarital agreement designed to define and establish parties' separate and community property interests. Paternity cases and domestic violence matters are considered part of her practice. Ms. Rogers is a court-approved and court-appointed to represent minor children.Ms. Rogers consults with individuals concerned about entering or exiting a relationship. She advises effective strategies for dissolution or premarital planning. Knowledge is power and good planning affords better results.Specialties: Family Law Specialist, Certified by the State Bar of California
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