California Family Code 2605

California Family Codes
California Family Code 2605

The evolution of family law has progressed over the years to address the diverse and ever-changing needs of families across California. One of the more recent developments in California family law, California Family Code 2605, covers the care and custody of pets in the context of any divorce or legal separation.

This decision was made in response to the larger cultural shift that better understands the role pets have in an individual’s life. This enhanced family code better humanizes pets and acknowledges the depth and significance of their impact on the human experience.

California Family Code 2605

Key Provisions to Know Within Family Code Section 2605

Understanding the different facets of section 2605 listed below can make you better prepared for your pet custody case.

The Definition of Pet Animal

The family code does not refer to all animals but specifies those considered community property and pets of the household. This is an important distinction to understand. It ensures that the traditional divorce laws apply to any pets that are jointly owned by the splitting parties and considers them to be part of the household.

This definition officially rules out any animals that might only be owned by one party before marriage, classifying those pets as “separate property.” It also does not count for any animals that might be used for business, such as farming or breeding.

The Care of a Pet Pending a Divorce Judgment

Because divorce proceedings can be lengthy, this presents a potential gap where a pet’s welfare might be uncertain. This provision now makes sure that the well-being of the pet is not overlooked, ensuring that both parties can comfortably advance in their divorce without feeling pressure to make rash decisions that would take the status of their pet’s life out of limbo.

In some instances, the court will require one party to have temporary ownership of the pet until the divorce is finalized. In other cases, the court may create a temporary custody arrangement, just like they would with children, to ensure both parties have access to caring for the pet.

Final Determination Statuses

Previously, pets were categorized along with other traditional marital assets, such as vehicles and furniture. With this new provision, their welfare and the emotional connection each party has toward the pet are primary considerations.

As the court assesses what should happen with the pet, they will look into different factors, such as the pet’s age, health status, and if they require any medical needs, such as taking daily medication or frequent trips to a veterinarian. They will also investigate to make sure there are no instances of abuse or neglect from either party before making a final decision.

What Evidence Can Prove Someone’s Unfitness to Share Pet Custody?

  • Neglect or abuse: If you have access to any photos, videos, or medical reports showing a pet has sustained injuries or signs of mistreatment, it can be enough to prove someone’s unworthiness of having pet custody. If anyone else has witnessed the individual’s abuse toward the pet, their testimony can also support this position.
  • Inability to provide basic needs: If one parent has an extensive work schedule and travels frequently, this can be used to make the point that they will not be home enough to offer adequate pet care. This is especially true if the pet suffers from any medical conditions and needs constant supervision and care to ensure their condition does not worsen.
  • Financial instability: If it can be proved in court that an individual is struggling financially and would not be able to support a pet as it requires, this could help make the point that the individual is unfit to meet the pet’s most basic needs. Aside from finances, any other evidence that points to how the individual lacks a stable home will also reinforce their unfitness to help raise the pet.


Q: What Is the Animal Custody Law in California?

A: California’s Family Code Section 2605 addresses animal custody. The law gives authority to the court to assign care for a pet during divorce proceedings. The primary consideration up for debate is the well-being of the pet, similar to how the court would address child custody. Before the divorce is finalized, the court will assign either sole or joint ownership of the pet based on how well both parties are able to meet the pet’s needs.

Q: Are Pets Considered Personal Property in California?

A: Historically, in California, pets were viewed as personal property until the shift of Family Code Section 2605. Pets still have elements of property in legal contents, but this new code recognizes that humans have a unique bond with their pets and should treat them with more consideration than inanimate objects. As a result, section 2605 has bumped a pet’s well-being and care to the top of the list for custody considerations.

Q: Does California Have Other Pet Custody Laws?

A: While Family Code Section 2605 is the most prominent law covering pet custody in the Golden State, there are other laws that cover animal welfare. These range from various anti-cruelty statutes to other laws that govern pet trusts. A trust would be where a pet owner sets aside specific funds for someone to take care of their pet in the event of their passing.

Like other states, California continually assesses the effectiveness of its legislation to see if any adjustments are needed to resolve any unmet animal rights needs.

Q: What Makes an Effective Pet Law Attorney?

A: The most effective type of pet law attorney has both a comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape and the emotional dynamics of owning a pet. They should be able to comfortably discuss Family Code 2605 in California and how that might intersect with other laws in a divorce.

They should also be able to find similar legal precedents in the past and use them to build a strong case for their clients. If they can balance this legal knowledge with conveying empathy for any sensitive emotions involved in the pet-related legal case, they may be a solid fit to advocate for your interests.

Contact a Qualified Law Firm Today

If you are divorcing in California and are concerned for the welfare of your pets, contact the family law attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, today. We understand how pets are an important extension of your family and have a strong understanding of Family Code 2605 to minimize any disruptions to your pet’s life.

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