One state puts novel laws regarding pets and divorce in place

Posted by Lauren S. CohenJan 25, 20170 Comments

Each state has its own divorce laws. So, changes in one state's divorce laws generally do not directly affect what divorce in another state is like. However, it can still be worth keeping an eye out on what sorts of changes other states are making when it comes to divorce. For one, they can point to larger legal trends that are occurring on a given divorce issue. Also, a change in one state might eventually lead to other states considering a similar change.

Recently, an interesting change in divorce-related laws was made in another state, Alaska. The change regards pets. Specifically, it adds some new provisions that directly touch on how issues regarding pets are to be addressed in divorces in Alaska.

One of the additions directly allows judges to put joint custody arrangements in place when it comes to pets of a divorcing couple. Another of the additions makes the animal's well-being a mandatory thing for courts to consider when deciding what to do with a pet in a divorce. These two additions are both first of their kind here in the U.S., no other state has such provisions on their books. These provisions move divorce law in Alaska towards treating pets more like kids and less like property in divorce matters.

This move underscores a trend that has been arising when it comes to pet-related divorce issues. Traditionally, pets have been treated as property in divorce matters. However, in recent times, various instances have come up in which pet owners who are getting divorced have desired to have more of a “custody” approach taken when it comes to what happens with their pet in the divorce. This has left courts throughout the country struggling with the issue of what exactly to do with pets in divorce proceedings.

One wonders if, in this environment, other states will follow Alaska's lead in making legislative adjustments to the rules surrounding pets in divorces. Do you think laws like the ones that are now in place in Alaska will someday show up here in New York?

As this discussion underscores, pet-related issues in a divorce can raise a lot of unique and complex concerns. When navigating these and other complicated (and potentially emotionally-charged) issues, a divorcing individual here in New York may want an experienced divorce lawyer's help and guidance.