California couples who are going through a divorce may be worried about more than just child custody, spousal support and property division. Many people have pets that they consider to be part of the family. When a couple separates, there is often conflict over who gets to keep the animal. While in the past, pets may have been treated by the court as property, cultural changes have shifted how courts treat animal companions. Nowadays, a judge may treat an animal more like a human child and base decisions on what is in the best interest of the pet.
While people have always had strong affection for their pets, new understandings of animals has altered how they are perceived and treated. It is understood that animals have emotions and that their welfare is a reasonable concern of both the humans who care for them as well as those in legal authority. As a result, when judges consider property division in a divorce case, decisions regarding the pets may be considered separately.