Pets are owned by 68% of Americans. I’ve written before about how pets are treated in divorce: as property. The law in all states looks at your cat, dog, parrot, hamster, snake, etc. no differently than your toaster, house or credit card debt. Courts around the country — including in New Jersey — have been diligent in applying that as law in divorce cases.
Earlier this year, Alaska became the first state to enact a law where the well-being of pets is a factor in the law. Normally, the law doesn’t care about the well-being of your toaster or lamp. So the allotment of pets in a divorce now has elements of custody, at least in Alaska.
Will other states follow suit? That remains to be seen.
One advantage of mediation is that parties do not have to strictly follow the law. Parties can agree to anything they want so long as it is not against the law or the best interests of your children. If you have pets, try mediation in your divorce.
Hat tip to Marie Sarantakis, Esq. via the ABA Family Law Section.