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Understanding California's pet custody law

Your fur baby is an important part of your family. During the divorce process, determining the new living arrangements for animal friends required the court to employ creative means.

However, a new bill helps to ease that process. There are a few important items to understand about California's new pet custody law.

The bill

In September of 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed the pet custody law into effect. Assembly Bill 2274, or the pet custody law, allows judges to assign sole or joint custody of a pet, as well as certain care considerations. The bill also allows judges to appoint a custodial party for the pet during the divorce process until the final custody determination goes in place.

The issue

In the past, there were no clear guidelines for courts to follow in regards to determining custody of pets after divorce. Therefore, judges would employ their own methods to make such determinations in cases where both parties desired to keep the pet. With judges utilizing various methods to amount to their decisions, the issue lacked unity and proper regulation. The lack of regulation also left room for judges to treat the pet more as an asset than a loved one in determinations. The new bill helps to luminate these issues and create a protocol by which judges, attorneys and divorcing parties can abide by in reaching the end goal.

The outcome

Having a clear process in place for pet custody cases not only benefits the court, but it also helps the divorcing parties and the pet. Whereas before parties had no idea how the judge would determine the custody of a beloved pet, they now have clear guidelines and can prepare their arguments accordingly. Also, the pet receives the dignity and proper care it deserves as a dear family member.

This new approach to pet custody may prove to make the court determination easier. As with other aspects of the dissolution of a marriage, it is important to provide as many facts as possible to plead your case.

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