California judges to rule on who keeps the pet in divorce cases

Sunday, September 30, 2018
Courts will ask who takes the animal for walks, who pays the vets bills and who does it go to when called by both owners
 
Colin Drury, Independent
 
Judges in California as they have been granted powers to decide who keeps the family pet in contentious divorce cases.
 
Courts across the Golden State are to rule on cats, dogs and other household animals in the same way they do in child custody disputes, under a law set for 2019.
 
Judges will be told to weigh up such factors as who feeds the pet, who takes it for walks and who pays the vet bills. They will be allowed to put the creature between both owners and see who it goes to.
 
“A court may do like, 'OK, you get the dog a month at a time or a week at a time’," said family law attorney Atousa Saei, of Santa Monica.
 
The new bill – approved on earlier this week by Governor Jerry Brown – will become law on 1 January.
 
It was put forward by state assemblyman Bill Quirk, a Democrat, who argued it was time pets were legally recognized for what most people believed them to be: family members. He himself says he is "the proud parent of a rescued dog."
 
Under the new law animals will still be considered communal property – essentially the same as a TV or stereo – but a judge’s legal power to rule will be increased.
 
"I think it's a good idea,” said Megan Green, a Los Angeles based family law attorney. “I personally have a little rescue bichon poodle named Rodney King Stone. He's like a family member."