Livermore, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law, Child Custody and Small Claims for California

Q: If my now ex is withholding my documented emotional support animal from me, can I take legal action?

I adopted a cat in 2017, and signed the adoption papers for it. I also have documentation that the cat is an emotional support animal for me. My ex-boyfriend was taking care of her temporarily before we split up, but is now refusing to give her back.

1 Lawyer Answer
William John Light
William John Light
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It's unclear if you are the sole owner, or a joint owner. Having the animal documented as an emotional support animal doesn't answer that question and wouldn't entitle you to deprive another owner of rightful possession.

If you are a joint owner, the two of you will have to work out a custody agreement. If he refuses, you can sue in Small Claims for the daily value of possession during the periods for which you have been deprived thereof (i.e., loss of use).

If you are the sole owner, you can sue in Small Claims for the loss of use to date, plus the fair market value, and/or return of the animal. You could also report to the police that the animal was stolen.

Plaintiff’s Claim and ORDER to Go to Small Claims Court; Form SC-100 (Lawsuit for monetary damages)

Request for Court Order and Answer; Form SC-105 (Request for Return of Property, filed with SC-100)

Order on Request for Court Order; Form SC-105A

Proof of Service; Form SC-104

Small Claims Forms

No guaranties that these are the appropriate forms or that a Small Claims Judge will rule in your favor

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.