As more divorcing couples fight over who gets to keep their pets, a new law will allow judges to treat those conflicts more like child custody battles.
In the past, courts have generally assigned pets to spouses based on who paid for or adopted them. Under a law signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown, courts would be allowed to make custody decisions based on who walks a dog, takes a cat to the vet or grooms a horse. Courts will also be authorized to order one spouse to provide food, shelter and medical care for a pet before a final ruling.
“There is nothing in statute that states a pet must be treated any differently than any other type of property we own,” said Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), the bill’s author. “However, as a proud parent of a rescued dog, I know that owners view their pets as more than just property. They become a part of our family, and their well-being should be a consideration during divorce proceedings.”