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Divorcing with Pets

Couples have been mercilessly fighting over pets in courts for decades. In recent years, California lawmakers have made some major changes to how animals are shared and divided between divorcing couples. While following along below, keep in mind that the California laws that have been passed are not obligatory, meaning judges still have the authority to call these cases as they see fit.

The Best Interest

At the start of 2019 California legal experts had to begin adjusting the way they handled pets and divorce in court due to a newly passed law. In late 2018 NBC reported on the new law saying, “The measure provides judges with the power to consider what’s in the best interests of the animal in divorce cases, instead of treating them the way they’ve been treated by courts in the past — as physical property.”

This means judges should consider what’s in the best interests of the animal, very similarly to how child custody cases are resolved in court. It’s up to judicial discretion to create a shared custody agreement by taking into consideration factors like who walks, feeds and plays with the pet when deciding who the animal should live with and when.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

As of present emotional support animals don’t qualify as service animals in the legal system and are not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, under the ADA only dogs can legally be considered service animals, with a rare exception only for miniature horses. 

In a California divorce case service animals will go on to continue living with the individual that the animal was initially placed with for medical reasons. However, since ‘emotional support’ animals are not typically recognized as legitimate by the courts, each individual judge will have to establish custody agreements based on their personal discretion which can vary case to case. 

Final Thoughts

If you or someone you know is going through divorce with pets call on the local pros of Orange County Family Law Richard E. Young & Associates for help. We are the easiest law firm to work with in the county and have an A+ rating among our local community. Our team specializes in divorce and family law including custody, trusts, visitation, domestic violence, bankruptcy and much more!

Things You Need to Know About Divorce during a Pandemic

Divorce or separation during the pandemic has brought new challenges. CNN comments, “For marriages and relationships involving the usual strife, the stress of job losses, shared housing, co-parenting and health insurance worries have been exacerbated by the pandemic.” Couples that are making the decision to divorce should know about how the pandemic is currently affecting the separation process. Learn more about some of the divorce factors impacted by COVID-19.

Slower Response Time for Court Cases

As family courts are starting to re-open, there are still a backlog of cases in the system. To remedy the response time, many cases are being switched to Zoom meetings, where couples are communicating virtually instead of face to face. However, even with the technology of Zoom, many couples still cannot make a joint decision about their children attending in-person school, asset division, and other crucial aspects of a divorce. If you are needed for in-court appearances, be prepared that it might take some time.

Asset Division May Be Harder to Value

Because of the volatility of the market due to COVID-19, market-based assets such as your retirement and savings plans, might be harder to value. Even so, items are valued as the day you officially separate. However, given the circumstances of the pandemic, things might not be paid out until later. Even valuing your home, if you are choosing to buy or sell, is harder to determine because of the changing housing markets. Talk with a lawyer to get more certainty before making a big decision.

Complications with Work Stability

With multiple waves of lockdowns and restrictions, job stability has been shaky. Many people have lost their jobs and are struggling to recover, which puts more stress on spouses having to make support payments. Divorce Mag writes, “If you think you might be the one making support payments, know that if you lose your job, you may have to continue to make payments until a court agrees to lower them. And if you are the one receiving payments, know they can be cut back at any time.”

What Now?

If you need a divorce lawyer in Orange County, contact the professional attorneys at Family Law Richard E. Young & Associates. We are offering remote and internet services for your legal needs. CALL FOR A FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION AT 949-951-9529 TODAY!