New law helps settle pet disputes in divorce cases

Typically, dogs are treated like property in divorce cases. A new law in California has been established to change that.

When couples split, fights often arise over who gets to keep the family pet. A new law grants judges in California the authority to settle these disagreements in divorce cases. As in child-custody battles, animals will be protected from being fought over as property. Assembly Bill 2274, which went into effect this January, permits judges to consider the well-being of the animal over other factors, and make a decision based on which party will provide better care. In other words, the animal will be treated as a member of the family rather than a possession.

“There is nothing in statute directing judges to treat a pet differently from any other type of property we own,” says state assemblymember Bill Quirk says about his reason for introducing the bill. “However, as a proud parent of a rescued dog, I know that owners view their pets as more than just property. They are part of the family, and their care needs to be a consideration during divorce proceedings.”