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Another important divorce issue: Pet custody

Whether you were married 10 years or more, or you never reached your fifth anniversary, divorce is likely to include various issues that must be resolved before you can move on in life and leave your past behind you. If you are one of many California parents currently preparing for divorce proceedings, your children's best interests are no doubt your highest priority. There are also property division issues to consider, and any business interests that might be pertinent to your situation as well.

If you're a pet owner, it's also crucial to determine where your beloved dog, cat or other animal will live, and who will pay for pet supplies as well as veterinary care. Providing for the needs of your pet is more of a custody matter than a property division issue. You certainly don't want your children to be upset at the thought of losing their best fur friend. The court will have the final say, but if you know what to expect ahead of time, proceedings may be less stressful.

Who took care of your pet during marriage?

The court has full discretion when ruling on matters of pet custody; however, it will likely refer back to your married lifestyle to help formulate its decisions. The following considerations will no doubt be of paramount importance:

  • Did you or your spouse take primary care of your pet during marriage or did you equally share such responsibilities?
  • Were pet supplies provided from joint marital funds or did children take care of such needs with their allowances? 
  • Did you own your pet before you got married? If so, do you have a prenuptial agreement? If you do, did you include specifications regarding pet custody in case of divorce in your contract?
  • Will you have shared custody of your children? If so, is it better for them and their pet to reside together at all times, meaning their pet would travel back and forth between houses with them?
  • Is it a viable option for your pet to live with one spouse only and the other to have visitation rights?

These are several of many factors the court may want to take into account when deciding what is best for your family regarding post-divorce custody of your pet. Pets are like family members. Children may have difficulty parting with a family pet, especially if they have grown up alongside him or her.

When California spouses are unable to resolve their differences regarding pet custody in divorce, they often ask experienced family law attorneys to litigate the issue on their behalves.

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