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In many divorces, pets are more than a property division aspect

In today's society, many couples have foregone having children and elected to become pet parents instead. However, when a relationship ends in a divorce, the pets are often legally viewed as just another aspect of the property division that needs to be settled. For many California families, their pets are considered children, and deciding on ownership is almost as difficult as child custody decisions.

According to reports, some couples have allegedly resorted to dognapping when they have been unable to decide whom the pet should reside with after a divorce. Other couples have drafted visitation and custody agreements in order to ensure that both parties can spend time with their beloved animals. Many states are starting to move away from the old stance of treating pets as property and are taking the time to consider what arrangements would best serve the pet -- much as a custody agreement when children are involved.

It has been suggested that couples stipulate in a prenuptial agreement with whom any pets should reside in the event a marriage ends. Furthermore, some professionals have also suggested that any animals brought into the marriage should be added to a post nuptial contract so that both sides can decide ahead of time how an animal will be cared for in the aftermath of a divorce. Couples have found some creative ways to settle this often emotionally complex issue.

Until every state changes its laws and no longer consider pets to be part of a property division agreement, spouses may benefit from seeking the input of a neutral party in order to arrive at a solution that will best meet their individual needs. Some warring spouses have sought therapy in an effort to find a peaceable solution that  eliminates some of the hostility these disputes can cause. California residents who are going through a divorce of their own may benefit from seeking the advice of a compassionate family law attorney who can help them work toward a resolution of all of the issues relating to a divorce, including who gets the family pet.

Source:, "You won't believe how people battle over their dogs in a divorce", Alisa Wolfson, Feb. 24, 2018

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
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Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
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