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Who Gets the Dog?

While you might be used to hearing about custody battles or disputes over children, you probably aren't used to hearing it about pets. However, California is changing that. For many married couples, their dogs are like their children, which can make divorce that much more messy and complicated. But now, one of the legal questions that can be asked is: "Who gets the dog?"

A new law in California can help to answer that question. Last Thursday, a bill was signed by Governor Jerry Brown that would treat dogs more like a custody issue in divorce court instead of like property.

Technically, the law still considers dogs "family property," however, the reasoning for who gets to keep the "property" relies on love and care.

Judges can decide who gets to keep your pup on a very similar basis as a custody-battle. Here are some things that the new bill takes into consideration:

  • Who feeds them
  • Who financially provides for them (food, toys, etc.)
  • Who takes them to the vet
  • Who walks them
  • Who spends the most time with them
  • Who protects them

This bill is a great step forward in treating furry family members just as they are - family members! Previously, the bills solely considered pets property and had no other stipulations or instructions on decision-making like California's new bill does. 

The law will go into effect on January 1st, which means that this is when judges can start using different factors to help decide who gets "custody."

According to the bill, judges can get "creative" in their exactly custody decisions. This means that, just like with children, they can decided on full custody, partial custody, or somewhere in between. 

Thanks, California! It's about time we start to acknowledge that pets are family, too.

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Jenna Gomes

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Jenna Gomes