New California divorce law: Treat pets like people, not property to be divided up

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (WTHR) – A new law going into effect in California starting January 1 is taking the phrase "fur baby" a step further, giving pets more rights.

The purpose of the new measure is to consider what's in the best interest of the pet in divorce cases, instead of treating them the way they've been treated by courts in the past — as physical property.

The law was sponsored by dog owner and state Assembly member Bill Quirk and signed by dog lover Governor Jerry Brown.


The law empowers judges to consider "the care of the pet animal" and create shared custody agreements.

"To treat a pet as property made no sense to me," Quirk told NBC News. "We've actually had judges who said you can sell the dog and split the proceeds."

The law doesn't just apply to dogs. It defines "pet" as "any animal that is community property and kept as a household pet."

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