Forget the house, who gets the dog?

With the number of high-profile celebrity cases scheduled this year, Court TV could become the next best thing to MTV’s The Real World. But even the cases of Kobe Bryant, Robert Blake and Michael Jackson can’t top the curiosity of pet custody trials. The lawsuits, which argue who has the right feed Fido dog biscuits for the remainder of his life, are being treated like child custody cases according to Court TV analysts.

So if J-Lo decides to marry Ben Affleck after all, instead of making pre-nuptial agreements on their possessions, they can visit to settle months (or days) before they divorce on who will get the pets. The pet custody pre-nuptial agreement will cover the basic protections for your pet’s best interests, according to the Web site. To give you an idea, the agreement states that the couple agrees that the pets should not be treated as property — after all they have needs and interests, too.

It continues to state that if and when a couple divorces and cannot determine who gets custody and visitation rights of the animal(s), based on who gives the best back scratches, a court of law will do so.

The court will base these decisions “on with whom the animal will be most physically and emotionally comfortable.”

Now, I agree when they said pets should not be treated as property because I, too, am a pet lover. But how a court is going to determine ownership in the best interests of an animal, which can only express him or herself with barks, meows, licking and scratching, is beyond me.

Much like child custody trials, judges claim the lawsuits are costly and can be lengthy, according to an article on Take for instance a case involving roommates fighting for custody of a cat they bought together. The victory ended in a five-figure settlement. Needless to say I think the cat will be dining on meals much better than Meow Mix now.

In another case involving a dog-custody trial, an attorney said he got a 50-page briefing on the case with the last line stating: “You can’t treat the breaking of the leg of a table the same way as breaking the leg of a puppy.”

How the (fill-in-the-blank) does breaking legs on a table have any relation to a pet custody battle? Now one may interpret that sentence as you can’t simply treat pets as property. But unless Tonya Harding was a potential owner in the custody trial, the case is addressing broken homes, not legs here.

Charlotte Reed, pet expert and syndicated columnist for Fido Friendly, will tell you that not all pet custody lawsuits are silly, but that they have become needed because pets have “an evolving status” in the family. In deciding these suits, she said she looks at the better life for an animal based on the owner who will have the most time and money to share with the pet. So if you’re more likely to buy your cat more toys or bring Fido to the park more often, then yes that pet will be most “physically and emotionally” comfortable in your home.

In addition to pre-nuptial, visitation and guardianship legal forms on, pet owners can fill out wills and trusts for animals. In case you have panic attacks about what will happen to your pet if something happens to you, the Web site strongly urges you to order a copy of All My Children Wear Fur Coats. It’s a pet-estate planning book that will help you plan Fido’s future to ensure he has the luxury of dog biscuits, long walks in the park and flea collars just as he had when you won that custody trial.

Grace Agostin is a senior majoring in mass communications.