Who Gets the Pets in a San Diego Divorce?


When it comes to San Diego divorce, there are many things that must be considered. One that’s often left as an afterthought? Who gets the pets in a divorce.

The important word to remember here is “family,” which for most of us who are pet owners also includes our pets, so being separated from them can be painful and stressful.

Mitigating Factors Related to Pet Custody in a San Diego Divorce

Under California law, there are no special rules that govern who gets the pet(s) in a divorce, but there are some provisions made under Family Code section 6320 that allow a court to grant one party possession of a pet in cases of domestic violence. If the animal in question may be harmed by the alleged perpetrator, a judge could grant a temporary or permanent restraining order restricting or prohibiting contact with that person.

Since the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA), under Family Code section 6200 et seq*, does not apply only to divorce cases, such a “custody” award could also be applied in any domestic violence situation between people named in the DVPA as potential parties.

These parties might include those who have had a dating relationship or even blood relatives.  (Family Code section 6211)

If the animal one person seeks to keep has a special relationship with that person or with another family member, such as a disabled child, then the court could consider what is in the best interest of the pet and/or the children and decide the pet should remain in that household.

While courts in the past have treated pets strictly as marital property to be divided in a divorce, nowadays the courts are becoming more liberal and appreciative of the fact that pets play significant roles in a person’s life and may act accordingly to what’s right by the pet and the person most affected.

Contact a San Diego Divorce Lawyer

When you’re going through a divorce, an experienced divorce attorney can help you understand the process.

If you are considering divorce or have already made the difficult decision to pursue divorce and have questions, contact JWB Family Law to schedule a free consultation.

The Importance of the CFLS Designation

A Certified Family Law Specialist, or CFLS, is an attorney who has obtained certification in the standards of California family law and demonstrated optimal legal competence. Attorneys who obtain this certification have specific expertise in all aspects of family law, which includes divorce or the dissolution of marriagechild and spousal support, child custody, and temporary restraining orders, among other areas of emphasis.

Not every attorney practicing family law has obtained this certification. In fact, the designation remains relatively rare—there are fewer than 2,000 CFLS attorneys in California and fewer than 200 in San Diego.

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