Household pets are often considered to be part of the family for most California residents and others around the country. In fact, many married couples get a pet together before they have children. Certainly, in these situations, both spouses are invested financially and emotionally with their pets. Unfortunately, should a divorce occur in the future, pets often get thrown into the negotiations for property division in the settlement. However, some states are making changes in the way pet custody is handled in divorce cases.

In the past, a pet was viewed as property when it came to determining who retained custody. Typically, the spouse who had shouldered most of the expense and care of the animal was able to keep it after a divorce. However, several states, including California, have begun to consider the well-being of the pets when deciding where they should live. In fact, joint custody arrangements for pets are becoming more prevalent.

Matrimonial attorneys recommend that the issue of pet custody be addressed in a prenuptial agreement, particularly if a pet was acquired together. Should something happen with the relationship, the topic has already been discussed before things become contentious between the couple. Of course, prenups or other marital agreements can be adjusted as the needs of the spouses or pets change.

Pet custody would certainly not be the only matter in a couple’s property division discussion. It is important to have an advocate in these deliberations who will act in one’s best interest. A California divorce lawyer will work diligently on a client’s behalf to obtain the  most favorable outcome possible in the proceedings.