There's no doubt that the divorce process can be an emotional one. For many Californians, dealing with child custody and visitation issues is at the heart of their emotional conflict. Yet, in many instances, parties find themselves squabbling over who will get the family pet. Previously, California law recognized pets as property, meaning that a decision had to be made about which party would take control of it. However, a new law set to take effect in 2019 will change the way courts handle this oftentimes delicate issue.
Under the new law, an individual can seek sole ownership of the pet or joint ownership. Similar to a child custody hearing, the court will consider the pet's well-being and, as such, what type of arrangement will support the pet's best interests. The court may, therefore, look at which party has been responsible for feeding the pet, as well as who has taken on the responsibility of taking it to the vet when needed.
While this new law has seen a significant amount of support, not everyone is in favor of it. Some critics charge that by devoting more attention to pets during the marriage dissolution process, the courts will see an already large backlog grow bigger. These critics argue that the law will lead to more contentious and complicated work that can slow down the arduous process of ending a marriage.
For Californians who have pets, however, this new law may put them more at ease knowing that their pet and their relationship with their pet will be given the due consideration it deserves. This is just one of the many family law issues that can arise in divorce, and the entire process can quickly become overwhelming. For this reason, it is often imperative that those who are considering dissolving their marriage seek legal counseling.