I’m William Ausman, the founder of 805 Law Group. We often get asked whether you can get shared custody of your dogs. If you’re like me, you probably consider your pet to be part of the family. This is Kona, and I know how much I love him. And I’m sure you’d love your animals in the same way. It probably comes as no great surprise that they’re often disputes about who gets the pet when a couple splits up.
In January of 2019, a new law changed the way that your pet and pet custody is handled in divorce and family law cases in California. This new law gives the courts and judges the power to consider the care of what is in the best interest of your pets and companion animals when the courts are deciding separation or divorce cases. Until recently, when this new law was passed, the California courts treated our pets, just like a dishwasher, a stove, a car, or a couch. The courts would simply decide who owned it, and who would get it. Yes, our California courts treated our beloved pets like luggage, antics, or any other property we buy along the way. This beloved family dog, cat, or some other pet would be considered a part of the marital or separate property estate and would be divided when the marriage ended.
Often, we hear at the 805 law group that judges based their decision on which party purchased or adopted the animal from a shelter. Judges had very wide discretion in determining where the pet would best be placed on arranging any visitation schedules. The court system, however, offered very little guidance on how that would happen. Our California courts now have a much clearer direction and will award custody of a pet based on what is deemed best for the animal. We’re finding too that judges are feeling empowered to create shared custody and visitation agreements and may enter orders that require one party to care for the pet. Before the Court’s determination, an entry of final ownership orders for the pet. Pets are still technically considered personal property. They’re not quite treated the same as children or other members of the family. But with the recent changes in the law and the way the courts look at this arrangement that has changed. This new law was written to reflect how most people these days view their well-loved pets. This bill sponsor, Assemblyman Bill Quirk was inspired to introduce the bill based in part on his own experience, rescuing a dog and the bond they’d built along the way. The original bill had even stronger language as an attempt to require the courts to consider the pet’s best interest; it’s changed to give your local judge wider discretion.
We’re happy to keep you updated on the latest changes in the law, as the law quickly changes here in California. If you or your family is considering divorce, separation or restraining order, or other legal issues, you might find peace of mind that 805 Law Group offers free, confidential consultations for you, your family members, and friends throughout the state of California. We’re proud to have helped thousands of California families get peace of mind as they navigate the laws in California.
If you have any questions, call us at 805-420-7547 or visit us online at 805lawgroup.com. You can also click the link down below this video to download my book, “California Divorce, and Family Law – How to Protect Yourself, Your Children, and Your Money”.