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Dispute over pets in California divorce now addressed by law

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2018 | Divorce |

Most California divorces have a dispute of some kind as part of the process. Some are contentious, others are amicable, most are in between. Property division disputes can be difficult when there are items of personal and financial value. If there are items that are of sentimental value, both sides are unlikely to express extensive flexibility on how it will be handled. A complicated factor in a divorce is when the couple has a pet that both want after the case is completed and they are unable to come to an agreement. In the past, this has been difficult to navigate. Now, there is a new law coming into effect as to how pets will be addressed.

With this law, the decision on which party owns the pet will be made by the courts. They can also give one party sole custody, have them share joint custody and take the animal’s care and well-being into consideration. As the process is moving forward but is not yet settled, the court can decide that the pet will be placed in the custody of one of the parties until a final decision is made.

The law will be effective at the start of 2019. Prior to a definitive law being on the books, it was left to judges to make the decision on their own. In many instances, they needed to be creative if the parties were unwilling to budge on wanting the pet to live with them after the divorce. The cases have varied amid different circumstances. Now, rather than placing the situation at judge’s discretion, there is a law that dictates what will be considered as the pet’s living arrangements are determined.

For the decision on where pets will live in a divorce and any other issue related to the case, it is imperative to have legal help. Since the law is often changing – as evidenced by this new law regarding pets – it is crucial to have a law firm that is aware of these changes and can adapt to any situation to serve the client. When considering a divorce, calling a qualified family law firm is crucial to achieving a successful result.


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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