Los Angeles, Sep 29 (AP) California courts could be going to the dogs and maybe cats, too under a new law granting judges authority to settle disagreements over who keeps the family pet in divorce cases the same way they handle child-custody disputes. Also Read - Trending News Today March 02, 2020: Oprah Winfrey's Stage Fall Makes Her Pull a Michelle Obama, Cracks up Fans With 'Meme' Comparison

Until now, Fido and Kitty have been considered family property, a status giving them little more standing in a divorce than a family’s big-screen TV. Also Read - Indian Shot Dead by Masked Assailant at Grocery Store in Los Angeles



Under a bill signed Thursday by Gov Jerry Brown, pets will still be considered community property but a judge deciding who gets to keep them will have the discretion of weighing such factors as who feeds them, who takes them to the vet and on walks, and who protects them. Also Read - Trending News Today January 31, 2020: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja-Rhea Kapoor's Sultry Video From Los Angeles Will Leave You Craving For Similar Exotic Getaway

“I think it’s a good idea. I personally have a little rescue bichon poodle named Rodney King Stone. He’s like a family member,” said family law attorney Megan Green of Los Angeles, who has seen her share of divorce cases where couples battled relentlessly over the pet.



In one case, a woman said the dog was a gift from her husband, but the husband maintained he was the one who took care of it. They finally worked out an agreement just ahead of trial.

Without the law that goes into effect on January 1, attorneys say judges have often had to get creative in reaching agreements when both sides say they can’t bear to part with their pet.

Some judges have put the dog between the would-be owners and tried to determine who it liked the best. If a family had two pets, a judge would sometimes suggest splitting them up.

“Or if there’s only one dog, a court may do like, ‘OK, you get the dog a month at a time, a week at a time,” said family law attorney Atousa Saei.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk, a Hayward Democrat who introduced the law, said it’s time family pets got the status they deserve family members. Quirk himself has a Maltese-ShihTzu mix named Luna and calls himself “the proud parent of a rescued dog.” He found an ally in California’s pet-loving governor, who has a photo of “first dog” Lucy Brown on his website.

“When she is not out exploring the family ranch in Colusa County with the governor and first lady, Lucy can be found guarding the office and herding staff at the state Capitol,” according to her bio.(AP) RUP

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.