Who Keeps the Dog in the Divorce
Who gets the family pet in a divorce? That depends where you live.
In Florida, pets are considered property and while I have never had to argue custody of a pet before in family court, I have had clients whose pets have been euthanized by a spouse during a divorce case. Because pets are considered property and there is no law against euthanizing a pet, there’s not much one can do. However, California is changing that.
Starting January 1, 2019, based on a Bill written Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, parties with a pending divorce may be able to seek custody of the pet until the case is finalized.
The court will also take into consideration factors that include not only who paid for the pet, but who takes care of the pet by considering who walks and feeds the pet. And ready for this, just like alimony and spousal support, a judge can order that the non-custodial pet owner provide food, money, and medical care for the pet.
Alexander Hernandez, Esq.
ASSEMBLY BILL 2605
SECTION 1. Section 2605 is added to the Family Code, to read:
- (a) The court, at the request of a party to proceedings for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties, may enter an order, prior to the final determination of ownership of a pet animal, to require a party to care for the pet animal. The existence of an order providing for the care of a pet animal during the course of proceedings for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties shall not have any impact on the court’s final determination of ownership of the pet animal.
(b) Notwithstanding any other law, including, but not limited to, Section 2550, the court, at the request of a party to proceedings for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties, may assign sole or joint ownership of a pet animal taking into consideration the care of the pet animal.
(c) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “Care” includes, but is not limited to, the prevention of acts of harm or cruelty, as described in Section 597 of the Penal Code, and the provision of food, water, veterinary care, and safe and protected shelter.
(2) “Pet animal” means any animal that is community property and kept as a household pet.
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