My ex left me abruptly without notice and took her things and the dogs (2) while I was at work. We adopted them together but they are in my name (I paid all the fees). I have paid for most of the vet bills, food and a portion of dog walking fees. She paid for the dog walker for the past 6-8 months because she wanted to use someone else. We lived in SF and she moved them to San Diego. I would have been willing to amicably agree to 50/50 joint custody but was not given the chance. She has blocked my calls and does not respond to email. I am not sure how to proceed.
People who believe that their animal is being wrongfully withheld can sue (replevin action) to try to get the animal returned. Courts will consider the evidence of ownership presented, including adoption/purchase records, microchip and license registration, veterinary records indicating ownership, who has been the animal’s primary caretaker and paid for the animal’s needs, etc. Some courts have also considered the animal’s well-being. I hope that you and your ex can work out an amicable arrangement that is in the best interests of the dogs. Also worth noting is a fairly recent California law which states, in part: “… the court, at the request of a party to proceedings for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties, may assign sole or joint ownership of a pet animal taking into consideration the care of the pet animal.”
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