California’s Pet Custody Law

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience for everyone involved. However, the thought of losing your furry friend can make the entire process even more stressful. Since your pet is considered a precious member of the family, many divorcing spouses may be concerned about who gets custody of their pet after the divorce. An experienced California family law attorney can enlighten you about the state’s pet custody laws and help you move forward.

At The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, we are committed to offering knowledgeable advocacy and experienced legal guidance to individuals and couples in divorce-related matters. Our trusted attorneys are available to discuss your unique circumstances and help you understand California’s pet custody laws. We’re proud to serve clients across San Jose, Morgan Hill, Hayworth, Fremont, Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Pleasanton, and the rest of California.

Pets and Divorce in California

Traditionally, most pets were considered as property in a divorce. No matter how much you love your pets, you or your spouse would become the sole owner after your divorce is finalized. If you did not get pet custody, you wouldn’t be able to share time with your pet. However, this changed after Assembly Bill No. 2274 (AB 2274) was signed into legislation.

California AB2274

On September 27, 2018, the 39th governor of California, Edmund Gerald Brown Jr., signed Assembly Bill No. 2274 (AB 2274) into legislation. As of January 1, 2019, the new pet custody law enjoins judges in family courts across California to take the best interests and care of the pet animal into consideration during the divorce proceedings. Here are some important provisions of the new pet custody law:

  • Companion animals (pets) are to be treated differently from other kinds of marital property.
  • California courts are allowed to establish a custody-like arrangement (shared custody) between the separating or divorcing spouses and their pets.
  • The court shall assign joint or sole ownership of community property pets while taking the pet’s well-being into consideration.
  • The court can also enter an order requesting one spouse to take care of the animal before the final ownership is determined.
  • Either spouse can petition an order seeking custody of their pet.

An experienced divorce attorney can enlighten you about the factors that the court will consider to determine pet custody and help you protect your pet’s well-being.

Factors the Court Will Consider

The new California pet custody laws enjoin judges to take the well-being, care, and best interests of the animal into consideration when awarding pet custody. Hence, in order to determine custody of the pet, the California courts may consider the following factors:

  • The spouse who acquired the pet
  • The spouse with whose name the animal is registered
  • The spouse with enough resources or space to care for the pet
  • The safety and health of the pet
  • The spouse that sets aside the most time to feed, play with, and walk the pet
  • The spouse who often sees to the animal’s daily needs
  • The spouse responsible for taking the pet to their veterinarian appointments
  • The spouse who covers the vet costs
  • The better care provider between both spouses
  • The spouse who has a more emotional connection with the pet

A knowledgeable family law attorney can represent you diligently in court and present your case intelligently in an effort to convince the judge that you deserve pet custody.

Options for Ownership

According to California law, the family courts may assign sole or joint ownership of any community property pet or animal. The options for the ownership of community property animals in The Golden State include:

Sole Ownership. The sole ownership of an animal involves a situation whereby only one spouse is awarded the right to the animal. The spouse with sole ownership will provide care and act as a custodian for the pet or animal.

Joint Ownership. Joint ownership of a pet involves an arrangement that permits two or more persons to retain some level of control over the care of a companion animal as well as their offspring.

If you want to petition an order seeking custody of your pet in a divorce, you need to reach out to an experienced divorce attorney right away. Your lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case and help determine whether sole or joint ownership will be in your pet’s best interest.

Turn to Experience You Can Trust

Filing for divorce in California often involves several complex procedures. With the psychological toll of marital dissolution, having to worry about your beloved pet can make the entire process even more overwhelming. If you’re thinking about filing for divorce and want to understand how pet custody will be decided, it is important that you speak with an experienced family law attorney for detailed guidance and to help you make intelligent decisions along the way.

At The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, we’re ready to assist and guide clients in complex divorce matters involving pet custody. As your legal counsel, we can review the details of your unique situation and walk you through the decision-making process of establishing pet custody. Our team will work diligently with all parties involved to negotiate a feasible custody arrangement for your beloved furry friend and help resolve other divorce matters amicably.

Contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer today to schedule a simple consultation with knowledgeable divorce attorneys. Our skilled legal team can guide you through every legal process involved in establishing pet custody in California. We’re proud to serve clients across San Jose, Morgan Hill, Hayworth, Fremont, Santa Clara County, Pleasanton, and Alameda County, California.


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