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What happens to the pet in a California divorce?

When you make the difficult decision to split from your California spouse, you will undoubtedly need to work through certain issues, such as how you will split custody, if applicable, and whether you will pay or receive alimony once your divorce becomes final. Increasingly, though, many California couples navigating their way through divorces must also figure out what to do about another important matter: who will keep the family pet.

According to NBC News, a new state law that took effect earlier this year is striking a chord with animal activists because it asks judges to consider the family pet in a similar manner they would a child. In other words, the new law dictates that California judges must now consider what might be “in the best interests of the pet” when determining who gets to keep it after the divorce.

In some cases, this might mean that one party in the marriage is better suited for caring for the dog, cat or what have you than the other. In other instances, however, judges might decide to create shared custody arrangements for pets that are not that different from the joint-custody arrangement you might land on with regard to your children.

Until this year, judges often viewed and dealt with pets in a divorce in a similar manner they would, say, automobiles and other assets. The recent law change forces judges to look at pets now as living, breathing beings who may have a better quality of life under some circumstances than others.

This information about how judges handle pets in California divorces is educational, only, and does not constitute legal advice.