Can You Mediate Custody Of Your Pet?
Divorce mediation is typically the process of amicably reaching a settlement to end your marriage, but you are unsure what to do about your furry friend. Under California law, pets are typically classified as personal property and there are no explicit pet custody laws like there are laws for children. If one party gets exclusive care to the pet, the other party may not be permitted to visit the pet. Pets used to classified under the same category as other pieces of personal property, but the laws have changed for the better recently.
Ownership rather than custody
There exists no provisions for pet custody in California unless the divorcing couple come to an agreement. A pet will be looked as a non-dividable piece of property. The party who does not receive exclusive care to the pet may not have any legal recourse. The best thing to do in such cases is to develop a pre-nup before marriage stating how pets would be divided.
What if I bought the pet before marriage?
In cases wherein one party purchased or adopted a pet before marriage, he or she is more likely to be granted full ownership of the pet by court as long as he or she holds no reasonable threat to the well-being of the pet. In such cases, the other party may not have any legal recourse apart from trying to prove that it is in the pet’s best interests to stay with him or her. Once again, a pre-nup would solve most of these problems without heading into any messy legal areas.
Can custody be established?
Although a court in California rarely establish or enforce pet custody, a couple can do so under their Marital Settlement Agreement. Through this, you can establish a custody and visitation schedule for your pet. The negotiation process and the terms of the settlement will often bind the parties to the agreement. This can be easily set up through your mediation process without needing to involve a court. A family court judge will sign off on the agreement as long as both of you are able to agree to it.
Getting divorced in California can be complicated. Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.
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