Although those who are not "pet lovers" may scoff at the idea, many divorces involve the heartbreaking reality of deciding who gets the family dog, cat, or other pet. It is frequently just as painful as dealing with child custody issues but, until now, the Family Court system in California has treated pets as "property". Consequently, if the parties cannot reach an agreement the Judge could only award the pet to one party or the other, without any consideration of the devastating impact it may have on the other person.
However, effective January 1, 2019 a Family Law Judge may now make orders which include a "sharing or visitation" arrangement for pets. The Court will determine which party has been primarily responsible for caring for the pet (feeding, vet appointments, etc) in determining "primary custody" but can award the other party shared custody or visitation privileges.
Certified Family Law Specialist Steven M. Bishop not only has over 40 years of experience helping clients navigate all the issues involved in a divorce, he is a devoted owner of Hamilton, a 4 year old Boston Terrier and Beagle mix (a Boogle) and he understands how attached people become to their pets.