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How California courts handle pets in divorces

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2023 | Family Law |

When you and your California spouse decide to split and share children together, you may need to come up with a plan that outlines which parent is going to have custody of your shared children and when. If the two of you also share a dog or another kind of beloved pet, you may also need to figure out how to handle your pet’s care moving forward.

According to Kiplinger, California is one of several states that has changed how it handles pets in divorce.

How California courts used to handle pets

Until a few years ago, California and most other states viewed pets in divorce in the same way they do property. Courts might consider factors such as who financed the pet’s food and vet care when deciding where the pet should live. Rarely did courts consider the emotional side of the equation and how much each parent loved or connected with the pet.

How California courts currently handle pets

These days, California is one of a handful of states that now view pets in a similar manner to how they view children. When deciding on a custody arrangement for a child, courts typically consider what arrangement would be in the child’s “best interests.” Nowadays, courts in California are among those that consider what type of living arrangement would be in the best interests of the pet before making final determinations about residency and care.

If both parties plan to share pet custody after a divorce, they may want to come up with a pet-sharing arrangement that is somewhat similar to a parenting plan they would make for a child. Doing so sets clear expectations for both parties with regard to the pet’s care.