When you divorce your California husband or wife, you may wonder what happens to any pets the two of you shared before the split. While California typically splits any assets acquired between you during your divorce in an equitable manner, things work a bit differently when it comes to your once-shared pet.
According to Kiplinger, California is among a growing number of states that now considers a dog or other pet in a manner similar to a child. This means the state’s family court system is going to consider your pet’s “best interests” when deciding who should keep him or her and when.
How to make your case for the pet
It may help you gain full or joint custody over your pet if you demonstrate how much time and expense you devoted to the animal so far in his or her life. If you were the pet’s primary caretaker in terms of walking, grooming and otherwise caring for the animal, then this may help your case. On the flip side, if your ex was abusive or neglectful toward the pet, you may also want to call attention to this in court.
How to navigate sharing the pet
The court may decide it is n your pet’s interests for both you and your ex to share custody. In this scenario, you may want to create a pet custody and sharing document that works similarly to a parenting plan in that it outlines what you agree to when it comes to raising and nurturing the pet in separate homes.
It may also help your situation if you and your ex determine how to navigate any disagreements that may arise involving the pet moving forward.