Mediation: Helping You Decide Who Gets Your Pet


Divorces may bring significant emotion and contested feelings. You and your ex-spouse own a pet, and you both want the rights to your furry companion after your divorce.

California’s community property laws dictate the separation of assets during a divorce. Yet the equal split of marital assets cannot apply to a single animal. To decide who receives your animal upon your separation, you may need to mediate to settle the dispute in your divorce.

California and community property

California is one of the 11 states operating under community property laws in divorce proceedings. In this type of property split, the court decides whether each of your assets prove marital property or separate property and, and then the court divides the assets based on their indication.

Separate property includes property that you owned before you married. Usually, these items may include any asset purchased before marriage and includes inheritance. For example, if you received inheritance from a deceased family member, and you used the money to purchase a vehicle, the court views the vehicle as separate property even if you purchased it during your marriage.

Communityproperty (or marital property) includes assets that you and your spouse own together. The court views your individual earnings, debt, home, cars and even pets as property to be divided equally in divorce proceedings. Pension plans and retirement agreements also fall into the category of community property.

Pets as community property – No 50/50 split

Although you view your pet as part of your family, custody battles for animals prove nonexistent in court. To obtain your pet as an asset after divorce, you must come to an agreement on where the animal will continue to live.

Mediation, which includes a third-party person helping to identify assets and aid in splitting them fairly, may help you decide whom receives your pet. The mediator may help you understand:

  • Whose schedule best allows for keeping the animal
  • Whose home or apartment suits the animal best
  • Whom has the income availability to solely continue taking care of the animal
  • Whom has the best relationship with the animal

It should be made clear that your animal deserves the continuation of a positive life after your divorce. You may feel as though you deserve the rights to your animal, but participating in mediation may help you identify the spouse that can best take care of your pet after your California divorce.

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