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Is Pet Custody Anything Like Child Custody in a Carlsbad Divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2019 | Community Property Division

Is pet custody anything like child custody in a Carlsbad divorce case?  How is the disposition of a pet decided during a divorce?  The Governor signed a new law into effect late last year which provides some new standing in a California divorce.  No, the pets are not considered equal to children.  They are actually classified as property under California law.  However, just as our Judges must give consideration and weight to a child’s best interests, they must now also consider the best interests of the family pet.

Pets are considered community property if they were acquired or adopted during the course of the marriage.  Community property must be divided evenly between the parties, and this is obviously not going to happen to a beloved dog, cat or family pet.  Therefore, negotiations surround the family pet now somewhat resemble child custody and parenting time discussions.  You may choose to have the pet(s) follow the children’s pattern of “parenting time.”  When the child transfers households, the pet goes with them.  We work to establish a pet sharing arrangement which reflects the goals and objectives of our client while comporting with California law.

If you owned a pet prior to the marriage, it is likely you will retain control over that pet as “separate property” in a divorce.  A judge may grant the right of a former spouse to visit that pet on occasion.

This new law went into effect on January 1st of this year.  While the new law doesn’t specifically make pet custody anything like child custody in a Carlsbad divorce it does provide additional options.  The new law specifically authorizes a judge to assign sole custody to one of the parties, or the judge may also establish joint ownership of the pet and consider what is in the best interests of the dog, cat or pet itself.  Pets are unique in this way as no other community property of the former spouses can be handled in this manner.  Nor should it be!

Pet ownership adds to our quality of life and that of our children.  Pet issues are often quite contentious in a divorce and the new law has helped to give Judges more flexibility in deciding the best interests of a pet.