California is a community property state, which means that if you decide to divorce your spouse, the assets acquired together during your marriage are split equally in half. This may include any pets and animals. At the Law Offices of Jeanne W. Murray, P.C., we understand how it may seem like an inhumane matter to discuss separating one spouse from a beloved family dog. As outlined by the San Diego Union-Tribune, however, the passing of Assembly Bill 2274 has made it easier to take into consideration the well-being of pets during a divorce.

Divorce codes in California recognize pets adopted, purchased or rescued during a marriage as marital property. Unless there is a written agreement in place stating that an animal belongs to one spouse only, couples may be required to split their pets with the rest of their assets equally. No one, of course, expects man’s best friend to be divided up into two; in some cases, a spouse might be required to make an official request to take full ownership of a pet or purchase it from their soon-to-be ex. Determining who a pet will remain with after a divorce is finalized may, however, bring additional strain to an already stressful situation.

To prevent unnecessary hardship during a marriage dissolution, AB 2274 was passed to provide for the proper care and consideration of pets. The bill allows a spouse to request an order from the court to take sole custody of a pet on a temporary basis. This gives one spouse the responsibility to care for it during a period of separation or through a lengthy divorce proceeding. A couple may also request joint custody of a pet so that it may spend equal time with each separated spouse.

The information you will find on my Divorce FAQs page provides more details regarding what to expect during a divorce in California.