When you divorce your one-time partner in California, you will undoubtedly need to work through certain matters, such as who is going to keep the house, whether one party will need to help support the other and so on. Increasingly, though, many divorces are becoming contentious with regard to who gets to keep the family pet, and the state has recently changed the way it handles these situations.

According to NBC News, dogs and other pets are a common point of contention in many modern divorces, and California’s courts will no longer necessarily handle dogs in the same manner they might cars, artwork or other assets. While couples have fought over who gets to keep the family pet for decades, California’s courts may now handle pets in a manner similar to how they would shared children.

What does this mean, exactly? Essentially, it means that courts may now consider the best interests of the pet before making determinations about where that pet will reside. In other words, you can now expect that the court will consider factors such as who pays for the pet’s veterinary care, who typically walks the pet and so on before making decisions regarding where the pet will live.

California is the third state in the nation to adopt similar legislation regarding pet custody, following in the footsteps of Illinois and Alaska, which established similar rules within the last few years. Currently, California’s new law gives judges the right to consider the best interests of the pet before making decisions, but it does not currently require them to do so.

This information is meant for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.