Divorce and Pets

January 27, 2017

It is commonly said that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. I’m not sure if that number is right, but after 20 years of marriage I can see how it happens. In many marriages there are kids and, perhaps more importantly, pets to consider.  Of course for many years there have been laws in place instructing that divorce proceedings consider what is best for the children when deciding where the children should live, what type of custody there should be and probably all sorts of other issues.  But what about pets?  Under most laws pets are treated as property, so in a divorce proceeding the pet(s) would be divided under standard property law (like that ugly blue sofa that you would be just as happy went to live with your ex) with no concern about what is best for the pet.

Splash-and-the-Golden-Gate-1-2-289x300.jpgLast week, Alaska changed its divorce law addressing the division of property (Alaska Statute 24.24.160), yes the law still calls the humans involved in this “owners” and the pets are still “property,”and added several clauses mandating that, for divorces where there is a pet involved, that when discussing who should keep the pet the well-being of the pet needs to be considered.  These additions allow for both single and joint custody of the pet, consideration of written agreements between the spouses (presumably this would include prenuptial agreements that discuss pets) and financial support all to be included in a discussion of the well-being of the pet and in the ultimate divorce decree.

So what do you think?  Is Alaska doing what is right by our pets or simply adding one more thing for spouses-on-the-way-to-be-exes to fight about (“I feed Fluffy the right amount of dog food; you always feed her too much!)?  Is treating pets like children in divorce proceedings what is right for the pet, or one more step in making pets the same as children (which, for most of us, they already are anyway)?  But in case all this makes you wonder, rest assured Splash stays with me!

Thanks for reading.

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