Who Gets the Pets in A Divorce?

By Law Office of Karen S. Brown

According to a 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, approximately 70% of U.S. households (roughly 90.5 million families) own a pet. During a divorce situation, issues of property or asset division often arise and must be sorted out. Since pets are considered a cherished member of the family by most, divorcing couples may be concerned about who gets the animal after a divorce. An experienced California family law attorney can help you to understand your rights regarding your pet in any form of marital dissolution.

Family law attorney Karen S. Brown is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal guidance and advocacy in all divorce-related matters, including pet custody. She is available to discuss your unique situation and help you understand all of your legal options. As your legal counsel, Ms. Brown can offer you the experienced legal counsel you need to navigate the divorce process and help you work out a feasible custody arrangement for your beloved fur babies. The Law Office of Karen S. Brown is proud to serve clients throughout Los Angeles County, Orange County, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, and Ventura County, California. Call or reach out today to learn more about how she can help you with your case.

California AB2274

On September 27, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 2274 (AB 2274) into legislation. The new pet custody law empowers California courts to take the care of the pet animal into consideration during marital dissolution. According to the new law:

  • Companion animals (pets) will be treated differently from other types of marital assets.

  • The court shall assign sole or joint ownership of community property pets, taking into consideration the well-being of the pet.

  • California courts can establish a custody-like arrangement (shared custody) between the divorcing or separating spouses and their pets.

  • The court can also enter an order requesting one of the spouses to care for the animal before the final determination of ownership.

  • Either spouse can file an order seeking custody of the pet.

Factors the Court Will Consider

Under the new law, pets are treated differently from ordinary community property. To determine pet custody, the judge will prioritize the interests, well-being, or care of the companion animal when making a decision on custody. The following factors may be considered by the California court:

  • Who acquired the pet?

  • In whose name is the animal registered?

  • Who dedicates the most time to feeding, walking, and playing with the pet?

  • Who is responsible for taking the pet to their veterinarian appointments?

  • Who covers the vet costs?

  • Who is emotionally connected to the pet?

  • Who usually sees to the animal’s day-to-day needs?

  • Who has sufficient space or resources to take care of the pet?

  • Who is the better care provider?

  • The health and safety of the pet

An experienced attorney can represent you and compassionately present your case in court in an effort to convince the judge that you deserve custody.

Options for Ownership

Furthermore, California courts are allowed to assign sole or joint ownership of any community property pet or animal, with two options for ownership. These options include:

Sole Ownership

The sole ownership of an animal occurs when only one person has the right to the animal. This person is responsible for taking care of the animal, providing shelter, and acting as a custodian for the animal or pet.

Joint Ownership

Joint ownership of a pet is an arrangement that allows two or more persons to retain some level of control over the care and breeding of a companion animal, as well as their offspring.

Work with A Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney

Getting a divorce in California involves a lot of complexities. Having to worry about your beloved pet can make the divorce process even more stressful and unbearable. If you’re considering filing for divorce or already in the midst of the divorce process and wish to better understand how pet custody will be determined, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney for detailed guidance.

Attorney Karen S. Brown had devoted her entire career to providing experienced legal services and guidance to individuals and families facing the complexities of California divorce proceedings. As your attorney, Ms. Brown can advocate for your needs and guide you through the decision-making process of establishing pet custody. She will review the unique details of your situation and ensure that your rights are protected, as well as the well-being of your pet.

If you need to petition an order seeking custody of your companion animal, Attorney Karen S. Brown will offer the vigorous representation you need to ensure that the court reviews all of the relevant information and surrounding facts. Ms. Brown will take every possible measure to protect your interests and help you explore all of your legal options in pursuit of the best possible outcome for your case.

If you or someone you know is facing the prospect of losing a pet or animal through divorce proceedings, contact the Law Office of Karen S. Brown today to schedule a one-on-one case assessment with an experienced divorce attorney. Attorney Karen S. Brown can guide you through the entire process of establishing pet custody in California and help you navigate any key decisions along the way. Ms. Brown is also proud to represent clients throughout Los Angeles County, Orange County, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, and Ventura County, California — so call today to find out how she can help you with your case.