Palmer Rodak & Associates
Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal SpecializationServing your Community for 19 Years
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Pets as property or family members in divorce

For most pet-loving owners in California, their dog, cat or other animal companion is often considered a valued member of their family. However, when it comes to a marital dissolution, the law has often considered pets as mere property. That, however, may well be changing.

The New York Times reported that a 2014 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers showed an increase in the number of couples seeking custody decisions regarding their pets during a divorce. Some states have even put custody laws regarding pets in a divorce into place. A notorious case in which a couple spent a large sum of money over custody of their dog occurred in San Diego and resulted with the wife being awarded sole custody.

Whether or not custody laws are in place, a person wanting to gain custody of their dog, cat or other pet in a divorce can benefit by being able to show that they were the ones who actually took care of the pet when the couple was together. Forbes explains this may be done by providing evidence like a signature on a dog license or on vet visit receipts. Testimony from neighbors about who was seen walking or grooming the pet most often may also be helpful.

It can also be important for people to think about the welfare of the animal in question and determine which spouse's lifestyle may best support the pet's everyday needs. Keeping kids with pets can also be a way to help make a final decision.

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Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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