The issue of pet ownership or custody has become more common in recent years. Now Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 2274, which allows the courts to assign joint or sole ownership of the pet. Much as a judge would consider the welfare of the child, the courts will consider the care of animal as well. The pet can even be placed with one party temporarily until all of the details of the divorce are determined.
Set to go into effect January 1, this law is in response to judges increasingly having to get involved in the pet issue, finding ways to equitably resolve them when both side wish to keep the animal.
Judges had to get creative
The law will effectively shift dogs and other animals from legal property to one that is more about custody. According to a report by CBS News in Sacramento, judges have already resorted to putting a dog between the owners to determine which one the canine likes better. Other solutions have involved splitting up pets if there more than one, alternating months or some other arrangement.
Pet welfare is at stake
Any pet owner going through divorce understands the need for this law. Knowledgeable family law attorneys will always ask if there are pets involved. Ideally, they can then structure an agreement that is acceptable to both sides. However, litigation involving this new law will certainly be a part of the family law landscape in the future.