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Posted on October 9, 2018 in Firm News

Over the years, many of my divorce clients are eager to ask me the question: What is going to happen to our dog (or cat, or other pets)?

This situation arises when a couple adopts or purchases a dog during the marriage, and then they divorce. Since the dog is community property, it is subject to the 50/50 rule that says that each party should receive the same amount of community property in the divorce. So, if one person gets the dog in the divorce, the other person gets cash or an asset valued at an equal amount. That’s it – that’s all the law said about dividing this “asset” (unless there are allegations of domestic violence – that’s another article).

Until now. California Assembly Bill 2274 gives California divorce judges additional guidance on who should take possession of the pet, and it makes complete sense: Judges can award possession of the pet both during and after divorce based on who gives care to the pet.
This law will certainly help give judges guidance on how to consider ownership of a pet where one person was clearly the caregiver to the pet. Judges will most likely look at who took the dog to vet appointments, bought food and fed the pet, who took responsibility for ensuring the pet got proper exercise.

A side effect of this will be an extra “issue” that will need to be part of the divorce resolution – surely, people will allocate some time, money and resources into presenting their case as to who provided more or better care to the pet. This will add time and cost to the divorce process.

California laws affecting divorce and Family Law change frequently. If you have questions about how California laws will affect your particular circumstances in your San Diego Family Law case, contact the Law Offices of Scott & Matteson Family Law by calling (858) 974-4900. Scott & Matteson Family Law is a Certified Family Law Specialist with more than 35 years of experience.