Tinero, Aharonov and Associates Tinero*, Aharonov and Associates A Family Law Practice, LLP

* Ellen Friedman Tinero has retired from the firm


The family pet is often part of the divorce process

Many California families consist of mom, dad, the kids and the family pets. These pets can include dogs, cats, gold fish, horses or any number of other domesticated animals. For many, a pet is an important part of the family. In situations where the pet is considered to be a part of the family and becomes tangled up in divorce proceedings, the decision as to who gets custody of the pet can be difficult to make.

The majority of states, California included, still consider pets to be property. As such, they are typically included as a part of the property settlement. In other words, property acquired during the marriage is divided between both husband and wife.

If the pet was owned by one of the parties prior to the marriage, then it would typically go to the party that brought it in to the marriage. However, if the pet was acquired during the marriage, it is considered community property and is part of the marital estate. In this case, if there is dispute regarding who gets the pet, one may need to prove who actually has been responsible for and taken care of the pet.

In this case, one may want to provide documentation regarding which party takes the pet to the veterinarian, who feeds it, walks it and provides the day-to-day care that the pet requires. Another important consideration is whether the pet gravitates to a particular individual. Many pets exhibit a preference between husband, wife or one of the children. It is often believed that the pet would prefer to remain with this individual rather than with another.

Dividing assets when a California couple decides to divorce can be difficult. Often, both parties want the same thing. However, when it comes to who gets custody of the beloved family pet, one hopes that a court will consider what is in the best interest of the pet. Experienced legal counsel can assist in determining the best way to distribute assets, including the family pet.

Source: us.blastingnews.com, "Who gets the pets when a couple divorces?", Margaret Minnicks, Jan. 29, 2017

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* Ellen Friedman Tinero has retired from the firm