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Where do the pets go after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2021 | Divorce |

California’s Family Code Section 2605 authorizes judges to include an order for pet custody in a couple’s divorce decree. If you wish to take sole custody of an animal, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may need to agree on the arrangement.

As noted on the California Legislative Information website, you may need to show that you could care for your pet. The court may review your ability to pay for its food, safe sheltering and veterinary care.

How may I stop my ex-spouse’s order for pet custody?

A California judge may not award custody to an individual with a history of abusing or harming a pet. If your ex-spouse regularly neglects an animal, the court may consider your concerns when deciding pet custody.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, individuals who neglect animals may also have behavioral issues. Signs of a neglected pet include malnutrition, untreated illnesses and skin problems or wounds.

How might a judge award custody when both spouses want a pet?

When both spouses request to take an animal, a divorce court judge may enter an order for joint custody. As reported by NBC News and according to a 2014 nationwide survey of matrimonial attorneys, 88% of fights over pet custody involved dogs.

To avoid a complicated divorce procedure, you and your ex-spouse may agree on a shared custody arrangement. Like sharing custody of children, you may outline a plan for visitation rights and how much each spouse could contribute to a pet’s expenses.

California’s laws no longer consider pets as property. An animal has a right to remain with an individual who could afford its care. When two divorcing spouses could work out a shared pet arrangement, however, a judge may award joint custody.