Custody after breakup for non-married couple.

////Custody after breakup for non-married couple.

Question

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.

Answer

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.”

PLEASE NOTE: Responses to legal inquiries are not meant to replace seeking legal advice from an attorney in your state. The materials in this website and any responses to questions are for informational purposes only and are not intended, nor should they be construed, as legal advice. This website, the information contained herein, and any responses to questions directed to this column are not intended to create and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely or act upon any information provided on this website or in any response to your inquiry without seeking the advice of an attorney in your state regarding the facts of your specific situation.

Send Your Pet Legal Question Now!

Elinor will field as many questions as she can and they will be posted here on this site. Due to the volume of questions received, not all questions are answered. However, many individuals have similar questions. You may find helpful information in the categories listed below.

Ask a Legal Question

By |2021-05-10T12:20:59+00:00May 10th, 2021|