Everybody loves their pets. For some, the thought of parting ways with their beloved animals could be heartbreaking. California Family Code  2237 allows for pets to be seen as family members in the eyes of the law. Pets are now treated more than simply communal property or an inanimate object.

Under this law, judges are able to grant sole or joint custody over the pets after divorce. The presiding judge will base their decision on who will be best able to take care of the pet and to provide them a loving home. Let’s dive further into who will be taking care of the beloved pet.

Taking Care of The Pets After Divorce

Before FC 2237, pets were treated as communal property and were divvied up between the divorcing partners. In other words, pets used to be treated like cars, homes, or other tangible assets. Whoever purchased, adopted, or rescued the pet would be granted ownership over the pet after divorce. No consideration was given to the pets nor to the owners.

Since FC 2237 has passed, judges may now grant sole or joint custody over the pet. Judges will take into account each person’s background and responsibilities. The judge will grant custody to the person that can give the most care to the pet. The judge will look at:

-Who takes care of the pet?
-Who feeds the pet?
-Who takes the pet to the vet?
-Who’s name is the registered owner of the pet?
-Who’s home is most suited to take care of the pet?
-Is there a job or lifestyle that will deem them unable to take care of the pet? (I.e. long trips, staying at work for extended hours, or drug or alcohol abuse issues)
-Who is emotionally connected to the pet?

All of these factors will be taken into consideration when deciding who will be getting sole custody of the pet, or if there will be joint custody over the pet. Judges have the ability to either grant joint or sole custody over the pet. Different pets will of course have different levels of care. To be able to sway the decision in your favor, gather as much proof of care as possible.

How To Get Custody Over Your Pet

Judges in California will grant custody over the pet to the owner who has taken more care of the pet. The person who has taken the most care for the animal, has paid for the animal, or takes care of the daily needs of the animal would be given custody over them. Service animals and emotional support animals are not seen as family animals, and cannot be separated from their owners. Speaking with a licensed doctor and certifying that your animal is an emotional support animal is a route many may choose to take.

One of the most important aspects the judge will be looking at is how much has been spent by each owner. The owner who has spent more on the animal will typically be given the pets after divorce. Collect proof of payment such as bills and other costs that prove that you have put the most into the animal’s wellbeing. Gaining custody over a pet is legally viewed as gaining child custody. Who will be giving the pet the best environment to live in? Who has given the pet the most? All of these aspects will be reviewed by the presiding judge.

Can I Sue For Pet Ownership?

Animals could be sued for in civil or small claims courts. However, this could be a costly and time-consuming process. Mediation is always an option for couples who are willing to negotiate visitation and time spent with the other owner. For many pet owners, no price can be put on getting their beloved animal back. Pride Legal is here to help. Call us today!

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has been seeking divorce, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.