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What happens to the pet in a California divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2021 | Divorce

When you split from your California spouse, you need to figure out how to divide the value of your shared home and other assets you amassed together along the way. However, things become more complicated when you also need to figure out what to do with the family pet – and particularly when both of you have strong emotional ties to the animal.

According to Kiplinger, California is one of a few states that considers the “best interests of the animal” when making decisions about pet custody. Sometimes, pet custody battles become as contentious as high-conflict custody battles, with each side making allegations about the other.

Common pet custody arguments

It is not uncommon for one party seeking custody over a pet to argue that he or she was the primary caretaker and disciplinarian of said pet. Your ex may also claim that he or she financed food and medical care for the pet to strengthen his or her case. In some instances, divorcing parties may also make allegations of animal abuse in pet custody cases.

Potential pet custody solutions

You may be able to reduce the chance of losing custody over your pet – or finding yourself embroiled in a high-conflict pet custody battle – by putting a detailed pet parenting agreement in writing. Use the agreement to address who has the pet and when who is responsible for transporting the pet back and forth and so on.

If sharing custody over the pet is unrealistic due to geography or similar circumstances, one of you may need to make sacrifices in other areas to keep your once-shared pet.