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Pet Custody in a California Divorce

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When it comes to divorce, children are not all that couples fight about. Custody battles over pets, particularly dogs have become increasingly common. When a couple divorces, they have to consider dividing all of their property, and this includes the beloved family dog.

For some people, it can be absolutely heart-wrenching to fight over the family pet. As silly as it may sound, some couples work out a custody and visitation arrangement for their pet, and they include it in their divorce decree.

If a couple cannot reach an understanding, they can use a mediator to help them decide on what would be in the best interests of the pet. If your spouse is unwilling to work out a fair arrangement, you could end up in court where a judge decides on your pet's fate.

Taking a Pet Custody Battle to Court

If you are fighting over pet custody, you should contact Claery & Hammond, LLPfor advice regarding the best approach. Since dogs are considered property in the eyes of the law, it would be helpful to prove that you adopted or purchased the animal.

If your spouse is the one that brought the pet home, don't give up. There are ways to prove that you were the primary caregiver, and thus you should be the one awarded custody.

Providing these receipts can help your claim:

  • Grooming
  • Pet food
  • Dog training classes
  • Veterinarian bills
  • Dog boarding
  • Other pet-related items purchased

If your neighbors can vouch that you were always the one to walk the dog or take them to the dog park, they may be useful witnesses who can help build your case.

Unfortunately, pets are sometimes used as pawns to hurt a spouse in a heated divorce. Disagreeing couples need to do what's best for the pet and ask, "What would make him the most happy?"


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