Pets are a major part of our lives and we tend to think of our animal companions as family members. Unfortunately, in a divorce, deciding who gets the pet can be tricky since the law has not yet caught up with society’s attachment to family pets. The law still views pets as property, which means the best interests of the pet do not factor into which spouse maintains ownership, or if the time should be divided, much like child custody.
That said, California law is gradually starting to give more consideration to the needs of pets in cases where it is believed one spouse might cause harm to the pet. This is known as California Family Code Section 6320, which provides protection to domestic animals. It is also proof that pets are beginning to get more recognition for their rights. In cases where domestic violence is an issue, this litigation also allows pets to be included in restraining orders, requiring law enforcement to remove the animals from a harmful situation.
Ultimately, there is no truly effective way to go about determining pet custody. If there are children involved who are attached to the family pet, you might want to consider letting the pet stay with the children, even if it means having to part with it. This will help make the transition of divorce slightly easier for the children to cope with. Prenuptial agreements are also effective ways to go about addressing pet custody, so if you decide to remarry in the future, you might want to include this specification to avoid the heartache of potentially having to be separated from your animal friend.
Experienced Divorce Attorney in Westlake Village
I, Jeffrey S. Graff, have over 30 years of experience in guiding individuals throughout the divorce process. If you are in the midst of a divorce, you need skilled representation on your side to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible through creative and cost-effective solutions.
Contact my office today at (805) 633-4999 to schedule your free initial consultation.