We are often asked “How do I keep custody of a pet in a divorce?” Divorcing husbands and wives in Carlsbad, Oceanside and the surrounding areas sometimes seek custody of their dogs or cats and other pets. Because Carlsbad and Oceanside are so close to the beach, warm sunny days encourage people to spend time outdoors with their pets.
Typically, one spouse spends more time with the pet, walking it and caring for it. And that spouse usually wants to keep the pet. The other spouse may see the emotional bond you have with your pet as a tool to hurt you, attempting to keep the pet from you to obtain a bargaining chip or advantage over you.
California Law used to require the court to treat pets like personal property. So, even if you have a stronger bond with the pet than your spouse, if your spouse purchased the pet prior to marriage, the court would usually to award the pet to your spouse. Recent changes in California law allow judges and magistrates a much greater latitude to develop common sense solutions to who will keep custody of a pet in a divorce.
If the pet was a gift to you during the marriage, the court would likely award the pet to you. Of course you would have to show the court evidence of the gift. If the pet was not a gift, and was not purchased prior to marriage, the best course of action to enhance the likelihood that the court awards the pet to you is to show that you have the strongest emotional bond with the pet.
Obviously in the best divorces, people should simply agree on who gets to keep custody of a pet in a divorce. However if your spouse is not playing fair, the best thing to do is contact the experienced family law attorneys at Burke & Domercq. Our offices are located in Carlsbad, and almost all divorce filings from Carlsbad and Oceanside are decided in the Vista Superior Court. We invite you to review the recommendations of our clients and call 760-434-3330 to schedule an appointment with us today.