Pets Are Finally Family Under a New California Divorce Law

December 7, 2018

California pet parents rejoice! Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2274 (AB 2274), which will amend California’s Family Code in concern to how family pets are treated in court during a divorce or separation.

Currently, when a couple legally divorces or separates, our furry friends are not given too much consideration. They are treated as community property meant to be divided equally, but pet parents everywhere know that their pets are not the same as their coin collection or dining room table.

Usually, whoever is on their pets’ adoption certificates or sales receipts is granted ownership. However, under AB 2274, pets will be given more consideration. Though technically pets will continue to be termed community property by law, they will be treated more like children. Going into effect on January 1, 2019, a judge may use a pet’s wellbeing as a factor when granting pet custody.

Pet owners will be granted sole or joint ownership of their pets depending on factors like who spends the most time with them, feeds and walks them, and takes them to the veterinarian for checkups.

In addition, if formally requested by one or both parties, a judge may require one party to care for the pets during the divorce process. Whoever is assigned will be required to provide shelter, food and water, veterinary care and safety to their pets until the divorce finalization. However, it is important to note that whoever is assigned custody during the divorce process may not be granted custody during the divorce finalization.

You can read AB 2274’s full text on the California Legislative Information website.

Need a San Jose Family Law Attorney?

If you have questions about how this new law could affect your divorce case or any other questions about California’s community property laws, we recommend that you speak with an experienced, family law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich at (408) 404-8656 or online to schedule a free consultation.

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