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Who Would Your Pet Live With, Whether a Dog, Cat, Bird, Fish, Horse, Reptile or Other Pet, in a Divorce or Legal Separation in San Diego Family Law Court in 2019?

Whether you are legally separating or divorcing in San Diego in 2019, the law has changed regarding your pet and where they will live after you and your spouse no longer live together. A summary of the past and current law will be discussed in this article as to how pets are treated in a family law case in San Diego Superior Court. For many parents, their children are very attached to their pet and where the children will live may determine where the family pet will live. For spouses without children, their pet may be their life and where their pet will live is of crucial importance in their case. The Law Office of Doppelt and Forney, APLC can discuss with you this issue as well as issues of custody, visitation, division of debt, division of assets and support [both spousal and child].

Before 2019, the law was that pets were personal property and should be valued, as appropriate, in the division of assets. In the past, if no agreement, the Judge would consider {among other factors} whose name the pet was purchased under and if the funds to pay for the pet were community or separate property. As with many areas of the law, this issue has cross over into other Codes other than the Family Law Code. The Code of Civil Procedure Section 655 states that the pet is personal property which can be divided and valued. Family Law Code Section 255 discusses division of property and the division must be equal under California law absent an agreement to the contrary between the parties. Pets could also be protected, as necessary, in a Temporary Restraining Order under Family Law Code Section 6320 and this continues into 2019. The requirement is that the pet needs protection and there must be a showing of “good cause” for exclusive care and control of the pet. Does the future hold the requirement for a “pet expert” when no agreement for a Judge to make an informed decision about where your pet will live? Only time will tell.

The law regarding pets changed in 2019. Family Law Code Section 2605 was effective January 1, 2019 and takes into account the “care” of the pet. While the term “best interests” is not listed in the new Code {which is the standard for children}, clearly the California Legislature intended for the Courts to be able to award either joint or sole control over their pet during the legal separation or divorce proceedings. The definition of care, in the Code, includes, but is not limited to, provision of safe and protected shelter, veterinary care, water, food and to prevent any acts of cruelty or harm to the pet. A pet is defined as any that is kep in the household as a pet and that is community property.

The Law Office of Doppelt and Forney, APLC offers up to a thirty minute virtual consultation in their office about the issue of pets as well as other issues for family law cases. Feel free to call the office at 800-769-4748 to schedule your consultation. Your no obligation and free in-person or virtual consultation will be with a licensed California Attorney who can discuss all your pending issues and try and give realistic expectations for outcome while, of course, no attorney can guarantee a result in court.

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