It has been almost two years since a new law took effect in California regarding pet custody in a divorce in San Diego and across the State of California. Prior to the new law, pets across the United States were considered to be “property.” As such, community property was to be divided equally between the parties. Pets were property and the decision of who got the beloved dog, cat or pet was to be decided simply based upon what the Judge in the case ruled.
Many Judges attempted to creatively determine what was best. In the case of a dispute, many Judges were known to separate the parties by some distance, place the pet in between them and see who it went to. Others may have ordered a pet to be transferred between households on a monthly or weekly basis.
The law allows our Family Courts to decide sole or joint ownership of pets in divorce cases. In the words of California Assemblyman Bill Quirk “it’s time family pets got the status they deserve – family members.”
Under our present law, the Judge may issue orders regarding pets as temporary orders (at the outset of a case) and as permanent orders. Temporary orders do not necessarily have any impact on permanent orders.
The Judge may assign sole or joint ownership of the pet requiring the “Care” of beloved pets. Care includes, but is not limited to, the provision of food, water, veterinary care as well as a safe, protective home. California law further defines “care” to include prevention of acts of harm or cruelty.
Pet custody in a divorce in San Diego is usually handled somewhat on the same principle as child custody: what is best for the pet. Discussions begin with a conversation between the parties. This may require some negotiation, and in some cases resolution of the dispute through mediation.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement upon pet custody in a divorce in San Diego the Judge will make the decision. The Judge may order joint care of the pet(s), particularly if both parties have a verifiable strong attachment to and relationship with the beloved pet. The Judge will consider the residences of both parties and the suitability for pet life. In the end, the Judge may also decide the pet should remain with only one of the parties.
Are you concerned about pet custody in a divorce in San Diego? Protect your own interests and contact us or call 760-434-3330 to schedule an appointment for a remote or socially distanced consultation with one of our experienced Certified Family Law Specialists.