Determining who gets the pet during a divorce

When a California couple begins divorce proceedings, they may be prepared to split their assets with a minimum of discord. In some cases, they may even have made a decision regarding the custody of their kids. When it comes to the family dog or cat, however, the issue of who the pet will live with can become contentious.

Some couples who can work together opt to share custody of the pet. When there are young children involved, the pet may go to the parent with primary physical custody. If there are no children, some couples are able to devise their own pet custody agreement that allows both of them the ability to spend time with their furry family member.

If the couple does not get along, however, it is likely that one person will end up with the pet. Divorce courts traditionally view pets as personal property just like furniture or artwork. Since most pets do not have a dollar value but do have an emotional one, they often become a bargaining chip. People can strengthen their claim by proving that they purchased the pet or that they have provided the majority of its care.

In most child custody cases, the court tries to do what it deems is best for the children. If the children grew up with the pet, there is a possibility that the pet will stay with them. Because this can be devastating for the non-custodial parent, an attorney might try to work out an agreement where the pet can visit with the non-custodial parent when the children are there on the schedule provided for in the parenting plan.

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