Since 2019, the laws surrounding pets involved in divorce in California have changed. Today, pets are supposed to receive some rights, because unlike your sofa or TV, they have feelings and are living, breathing creatures.
Today, judges can look at your case and have the power to decide on the best interests of the pet involved in the divorce. Does one person provide better care to the pet? Does one walk the pet every day while the other ignores it? All of these kinds of factors are now considered, so that the pet goes to the right home.
Sometimes, people who can agree to it may decide on shared custody of a family pet. For example, if you and your spouse have children who love their dog, you might exchange custody of the pet at the same time that you exchange custody of your children.
In the past, pets were treated just like property, and many people found it unfair and, sometimes, inhumane. Interestingly, the law doesn't just apply to pets. It also applies to any animal that is community property and that has been kept as a pet.
If you have a pet and are considering a divorce, you should know that divorce laws will impact your pet, too. You and your spouse should think carefully about who can take proper care of your pet and if it's a good idea to share custody or simply leave your pet in the care of the person who can provide for it best. Our website has more information on property division and unique circumstances like this.