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3 factors considered when determining pet custody in a California divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Divorce

In California, the divorce process affects not only spouses and any involved children but also their pets. Prior to 2019, pets were considered property in California divorces. However, with the passage of Assembly Bill 2274 in 2018, pets are now treated more like family members and their welfare is taken into account during divorce proceedings.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on pet custody arrangements, the court may consider several factors to determine the best interests of the pet. These factors may include the following.

Care and attachment

A judge may consider which spouse has been the primary caregiver for the pet, including feeding, grooming, exercising and providing medical care. The level of attachment between each spouse and the pet may also be evaluated, including the emotional bond and the pet’s response to each spouse. Testimony or evidence regarding the pet’s behavior and reactions towards each spouse may also be taken into account.

Living situation and stability

The court may assess the living arrangements of each spouse and their ability to provide a suitable environment for the pet’s well-being. Factors such as housing type, space available, access to outdoor areas and lifestyle may be considered. The stability of each spouse’s living situation, including work schedules and any planned relocations, may also influence the decision.

Financial ability

The financial ability to provide for the pet’s needs is a crucial factor considered by the court. This includes assessing each spouse’s income, assets and willingness to allocate resources towards the pet’s care. Additionally, the court may evaluate any existing arrangements or agreements regarding financial responsibility for the pet’s expenses and whether each spouse has demonstrated the ability to meet these obligations consistently.

If you are considering divorce and are concerned about the welfare of your pet, seeking legal counsel can provide you with guidance and advocacy to help ensure that your pet’s best interests are protected during the divorce proceedings.