Aharonov & Revy Family Law, LLP Aharonov & Revy Family Law, LLP

Who gets the pet when a California couple gets a divorce

When a California couple decides to divorce, there are many decisions to be made. Property division and child custody are perhaps the most common decisions; however, for a growing number of couples, the decision regarding who gets the family pet is an important one. Whether it is a dog, cat, guinea pig or goldfish, the family pet has become an important part of the family and should be considered in divorce decisions.

There are several options that can be considered in making this decision. Though pets have traditionally been treated as property by divorce courts, judges have increasingly shown an inclination to address the issues from a custodial viewpoint. If the pet is primarily attached to either the husband or wife, then the decision is probably a fairly easy one to make. However, if both spouses are fond of the pet and spend time with it, the pet is likely attached to both and will want to remain a part of both lives. In this case, some form of joint custody may be appropriate.

Another consideration is when children are involved. Many times, a child and pet are inseparable. When this is the case, it may be in everyone's best interest for the child and pet to stay together. In other words, when the child is at mom's, the pet is at mom's, and when the child is at dad's, the pet is at dad's.

As any pet owner knows, pets can be expensive. Decisions also need to be made regarding who will pay for the pet's veterinary care, medicines, grooming and more. Finally, there often comes a time when decisions need to be made regarding the pet's life, such as whether or not an operation should be performed. By establishing how these decisions will be made ahead of time, there will be less turmoil later on.

The decision to divorce is one that many California couples find themselves making. In doing so, there are also a number of other factors to be considered, including who gets the beloved family pet. Many times, legal guidance is needed to make sure that all property and custody issues are analyzed and addressed.

Source: delawareonline.com, "Who Gets the Pet? Couples Work Out Joint Custody", Melissa Kossler Dutton, June 23, 3016

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