Who gets the dog? Shared custody of pets approved

Shared custody of pets

When couples go through a divorce or separation, one of the most contentious issues they often face is determining who gets custody of their beloved pets. For many people, pets are considered part of the family, and the thought of losing them or not being able to see them regularly can be heartbreaking. However, a recent development in California may provide some relief for pet owners going through a shared custody situation.


Who determines pet custody in shared custody cases?

In shared custody cases, the determination of pet custody is ultimately up to the courts. Judges have the authority to make decisions regarding the ownership and care of pets, just as they do with other aspects of a divorce or separation. The legal system recognizes that pets are not just property, but living beings that require care and attention.

Assemblymember Bill Quirk, who sponsored the bill, believes that pets should be treated more like children in custody disputes. He argues that pets have emotional attachments to both parties involved and that it is in their best interest to have continued access to both individuals. The bill aims to provide a framework for shared custody agreements that prioritize the well-being of the animal.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the protection of animals, may also provide an amicus brief in support of shared custody arrangements. They argue that pets should not be treated as mere property and that their best interests should be taken into consideration when determining custody.

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The court's determination of what is best for the animal

When deciding on pet custody, the court's primary concern is the well-being of the animal. They will consider factors such as who has been the primary caregiver, who has the resources to provide for the pet's needs, and who can provide a stable and loving environment. The court may also take into account the pet's emotional attachment to each party and the potential impact of separating the pet from either individual.

Shared custody agreements can be a viable option in cases where both parties are willing and able to cooperate. These agreements outline the specific terms of custody, including visitation schedules, financial responsibilities, and decision-making authority. They can be tailored to fit the unique needs of each pet and their owners.

In some cases, the court may issue temporary orders that require one party to care for the pet until a final ownership determination is made. This ensures that the pet's needs are met while the legal process is ongoing. These orders may also include provisions for visitation or shared custody during this interim period.


The approval of shared custody of pets in California is a significant step forward in recognizing the importance of pets in the lives of their owners. It acknowledges that pets are not just property but cherished members of the family. By prioritizing the well-being of the animal and considering their emotional attachments, the court can make decisions that are in the best interest of all parties involved.

Shared custody agreements provide a framework for pet owners to work together and ensure that their pets receive the love and care they deserve. These agreements can be tailored to fit the unique needs of each pet and their owners, allowing for continued access and involvement in the pet's life.

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While the determination of pet custody can still be a contentious issue, the recognition of shared custody as a viable option provides hope for pet owners going through a divorce or separation. It allows them to maintain a relationship with their beloved pets and ensures that the pets themselves are not caught in the middle of a legal battle.

As more states consider similar legislation, it is clear that the shared custody of pets is becoming a recognized and accepted practice. It is a positive development that reflects society's evolving understanding of the bond between humans and animals. Who gets the dog? With shared custody, both parties can.

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