What happens to the pet in a California divorce?

When you split from your husband or wife in California, the two of you must work through the process of asset division. While some assets may prove relatively easy to divide, others may serve as points of contention. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse share a pet together, you may have trouble deciding how to handle the animal when you part ways.

Per Kiplinger, California is one of just a few states that require courts to view pets in a similar manner to how they view children. This means that judges overseeing divorce proceedings that involve pets must now consider the pet’s “best interests” when deciding where the pet should live and when.

How to make your case

It may help strengthen your argument for pet custody if you demonstrate that you played a major role in caring for your pet up until this point. If you maintained most of the responsibility for walking the pet, taking him or her to and from the vet and paying for his or her food and care, state as much when making your case.

How to propose a pet custody agreement

Unless one of you has a history of neglecting or abusing the animal, the judge may want you to share custody over the animal at the center of the matter. In this situation, consider creating a pet custody and sharing agreement that outlines who gets the pet and when, whether the party in possession of the pet may travel out of state and so on. You may also want to include language about how you plan to handle any disputes that arise over the pet in the future.

In some cases, you may be able to obtain custody of your pet by sacrificing something else you both want. However, in some cases, sharing the pet may serve everyone well moving forward.

Share On


Navigating The Breakup:

A Complete Guide To Divorce For Silicon Valley Founders & Executives

Have more questions about divorce? Check out our Divorce Q&A.