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San Jose Divorce Attorney > Blog > Divorce > Who Gets the Dog in a Divorce: Navigating Pet Custody in San Jose, California

Who Gets the Dog in a Divorce: Navigating Pet Custody in San Jose, California


Divorce is a complex and often emotionally charged process. Among the myriad of issues that must be addressed, deciding who gets custody of the family pet can be a surprisingly challenging and sensitive matter. The experienced San Jose family lawyers at Foster Hsu, LLP understand the importance of addressing pet custody in divorce cases and can provide guidance on how to navigate this unique aspect of family law.

Pets Are Just Like Family

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition that pets are not just property but cherished members of the family. However, under California law, pets are still considered personal property, similar to cars or furniture. This means that in a divorce, pets are subject to the same legal framework as other assets. Our attorneys always keep in mind that your pets are a crucial piece of your divorce, regardless of how the law looks at pets.

So, Do I Get My Dog or Furry Friend in a Divorce?

One of the primary factors the court may consider is who legally owns the pet. If one spouse can prove that they purchased or adopted the pet before the marriage or can show documentation of a separate property claim, they may have a stronger claim to ownership.

The court may also take into account which spouse has been the primary caregiver for the pet. This includes responsibilities such as feeding, grooming, taking the pet to the vet, and overall care. The primary caregiver may have a stronger case for custody.

If the pet has a particularly strong bond with one of the children, the court may consider the child’s best interests in determining pet custody.

The spouse who can demonstrate financial responsibility for the pet’s needs, including food, medical care, and other expenses, may have a stronger claim.

In many cases, divorcing couples can reach an agreement on pet custody through negotiation or mediation. This can include shared custody arrangements, visitation schedules, or other tailored solutions that prioritize the pet’s well-being.

California courts are increasingly considering the best interests of the pet when determining custody. This can involve assessing the pet’s relationship with each spouse and determining which environment would be most conducive to the pet’s happiness and well-being.

Foster Hsu, LLP Recognizes Your Love For Your Furry Friends and Will Address Pet Custody In Your Divorce

While the law may still view pets as property, our team of family law attorneys understands the nuanced nature of these disputes and can help you navigate this sensitive issue with compassion and legal expertise.

It is essential to remember that, ultimately, the court’s decision is based on existing legal frameworks. Therefore, if you are facing a pet custody dispute during a divorce, consulting with our experienced family law attorneys can help you build a strong case and work towards a resolution that prioritizes the well-being of your beloved pet.

In San Jose, California, Foster Hsu, LLP is dedicated to helping individuals navigate this unique aspect of family law and find solutions that ensure the best interests of their cherished pets are protected. Schedule a consultation to get started today.

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