What Happens To Our Dog In Divorce?

California will soon be adding California Family Code Section 2605 which will change how Santa Barbara Divorce Lawyers handle which spouse will receive the family dog upon divorce.

The new law will allow judges to order sole or joint custody orders based on considerations of who provided and will provide “care” for the animal. The considerations of “care” of the animal include but are not limited to who provides food, water, veterinary care and safe and protected shelter for the dog. This new so-called “dog custody law” will apply not just to dogs, but any community household pets.

A few important things to consider:

1. This new law is a big change from prior California Divorce Law, which provided that pets are considered property only and any shared custody provisions could only be made by agreement of the parties and not by a judge.

2. Courts now have the power to make custody orders for dogs like they do for children. For example, a court could order joint custody of a dog wherein one spouse has custody of the dog one week and the other spouse receives custody of the dog the next week, etc. Courts could not do that before the enactment of this law. 

3. This new law seemingly will only apply to dogs who are “community property”, i.e. acquired during the marriage and before separation, and not acquired via gift or inheritance. If a party owned a dog prior to marriage, seemingly this new law would not apply and the dog would be awarded to the party who acquired the dog prior to marriage. 

4. If you are getting a Divorce in Santa Barbara, you should consult with a Santa Barbara Divorce Lawyer to strategize what evidence can be presented to the court to obtain your desired custody order for your dog. 

If your going through a Santa Barbara Divorce, or have questions about the new California “dog custody law” call Morales Law for a free consultation. We will fight for you, your family, and your dog. Call us at (805) 422-7966.

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