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Who Gets Custody of Pets in a California Divorce?

California Family Law Articles
Who Gets Custody of Pets in a California Divorce?

family attorney David Dworakowski answers who gets custody of the pets in a california divorce; young boy playing with a cocker spaniel puppy

For many years in California, pets were considered property in a divorce settlement. In other words, California Family Courts treated pets similarly to inanimate objects such as furniture in a divorce. That all changed in 2019.

A law enacted in 2019 added Section 2605 to California’s Family Code to differentiate pets from other types of inanimate marital assets. This new law not only requires the court to assign sole or joint ownership of the pet when requested by a party, but also asks the court to take into consideration the care and well-being of the pet when determining custody. In other words, the law shifts the perception of animals or pets – now considering them as family members rather than personal property.

A Family Court judge in California will now weigh many factors in awarding custody of a pet that was acquired during the marriage. These factors include:

  • Who normally feeds, walks, and plays with the pet?
  • Who takes the pet to their veterinarian appointments?
  • In whose name is the animal registered, and who has sufficient space to take care of the animal?
  • Who is the pet most emotionally connected to?

In sum, when it comes to pets, a Family Court Judge will often utilize a best interest standard – which is typically implemented in child custody cases. Many times, the Court will have the pet follow the children’s custody schedule. That is, the pet will be shared by the different households and stay with the kids.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one have any more questions about custody of pets in a California divorce, contact us. Get connected to an attorney with Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP.


David Dworakowski is a certified family law specialist and a founding partner at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, a premier family law firm in Irvine. Mr. Dworakowski takes tremendous pride in his work. For over 30 years he has been helping clients achieve outstanding results.

Practice Areas

Family Law


domestic violence

Cohabitation Agreements

Postnuptial Agreement


Marital Dissolution

Legal Separation

Child Custody Visitation

child Support Modification

spousal Support Modification

Restraining Orders

Division of Assets

Work Place Protective Orders

Custody of Children with Special Needs


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