Category: Pet Custody

Pet custody is going to California

Pet custody is closer to becoming a reality after California passed a law making pets community property but letting judges decide who gets to keep them. What is Florida’s law on pet custody?

Pet Custody

California Dreaming

All the leaves are brown, and the sky may be grey, but California just began a new era for how pets are treated after a divorce. A new law passed on Thursday makes sure pets are seen as more than just property when it comes time to split up assets in a divorce.

According to the San Diego Tribune, Assembly Bill 2274 will ensure care of a pet is taken into consideration both while divorce proceedings are underway and after they’re made official.

With the new law, a person can petition the court for sole or joint ownership based on care of the pet, which is defined to include “prevention of acts of harm or cruelty” and “the provision of food, water, veterinary care and safe and protected shelter.”

The law also adds a new ability for a person in the divorce to request an order that would require one person in the marriage to care for the pet prior to the divorce becoming final.

Florida Pet Custody

I’ve written on the development of pet custody cases and statutes before. Pet custody cases are becoming more and more prevalent around the country. That is because state lawmakers and advocacy groups are promoting the notion that the legal system should act in the best interests of animals.

Pets are becoming a recognized part of the family. About 15 years ago, states began to allow people to leave their estates to care for their pets. Recently, courts have gone so far as to award shared custody, visitation and even alimony payments to pet owners.

Florida doesn’t have pet custody or visitation laws. Florida courts are already overwhelmed with the supervision of custody, visitation, and support matters related to the protection of children.

Accordingly, Florida courts have not or cannot undertake the same responsibility as to animals.

I Remember California

The law in California used to be like Florida, viewing pets as property to be argued over in the separation of assets.

“There is nothing in statute directing judges to treat a pet differently from any other type of property we own, I know that owners view their pets as more than just property. They are part of our family, and their care needs to be a consideration during divorce proceedings.”

Now, rather than seen as a valued property item or dollar amount to be divided, the well-being of the pet will get more consideration.

California Calling

Supporters of the law hope the new law will lead to fewer homeless animals. But not everyone is happy. The Association of Certified Family Law Specialists opposed it, saying divorces already face significant delays and issues of contention in court, especially when it comes to children.

“By adding in sole or joint ownership of pet animals as a determination courts can make in divorce proceedings, the already backlogged family court proceedings may become even more delayed as judges consider the myriad factors that come into play when making decisions about community property division and child custody.”

The San Diego Tribune article is here.

 

2018 Pet Custody News Update

New divorce court cases surge as people start the New Year with a clean slate, and put the holiday stress behind them. But divorce can also lead to a pet custody fight over your four-legged fur baby. Well, there’s big news in pet custody.

Pet Custody News

In Illinois at least, according to a new state law effective January 1st, judges in divorce proceedings can consider the well-being of companion animals in allocating sole or joint ownership.

According to the sponsor of the legislation, a self-proclaimed animal lover:

It sort of starts treating your animal more like children instead of property. If you’re going before a judge, they’re allowed to take the best interest of the animal into consideration.

The new Illinois law, similar to one in Alaska, applies only to pets that are marital assets, not service animals.

Pets are another issue to hash out in a divorce, in addition to money, children and possessions. For years, pets have been treated no differently than other pieces of property to be divvied up between the couple.

Florida Pet Custody

I’ve written about pet custody issues before. Florida doesn’t have pet custody or visitation laws. Florida courts are already overwhelmed with the supervision of custody, visitation, and support matters related to the protection of children.

So, Florida courts have not, or cannot, undertake the same responsibility as to animals.

A chocolate lab may be considered a member of the family to you, but under Florida law, your dog “Brownie” is just personal property to be divided in divorce in Florida.

Pet Custody Around the Nation

Not all states have ruled out a visitation schedule for dogs like Florida. For instance, while Texas also views dogs as personal property, in one case a Texas court authorized visitation.

Pet custody cases are becoming more and more prevalent around the country. That is because state lawmakers and advocacy groups are promoting the notion that the legal system should act in the best interests of animals.

About 15 years ago, states began to allow people to leave their estates to care for their pets. Recently, courts have gone so far as to award shared custody, visitation and even alimony payments to pet owners.

According to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, about 30% of attorneys have seen a decrease over the past three years in pet custody cases in front of a judge.

Over the last decade, the question of pet custody has become more prevalent, particularly when it involves a two-income couple with no children who shared responsibility for and are both attached to the pet, she said.

The new Illinois law gives judges more leeway in deciding what to do with a pet instead of simply giving it to one side or the other. The matter could be resolved with both parties sharing custody or, as the law calls it, joint ownership.

The Chicago Tribune article is here.

 

Pet Custody News

When couples get divorced, children are not the only ones who can get caught in custody disputes. As the New York Times reports, pet custody fights over the beloved chocolate lab can be just as painful.

Status of Pet Custody

Pet custody cases are becoming more and more prevalent around the country. That is because state lawmakers and advocacy groups are promoting the notion that the legal system should act in the best interests of animals.

Pets are becoming a recognized part of the family. About 15 years ago, states began to allow people to leave their estates to care for their pets. Recently, courts have gone so far as to award shared custody, visitation and even alimony payments to pet owners.

One case in San Diego that gained national headlines featured a pointer-greyhound mix named Gigi, who was the focus of a contentious divorce between Dr. Stanley and Linda Perkins.

At first, they were granted joint custody of Gigi, but neither human was satisfied with the arrangement. A court fight followed that took two years and cost about $150,000 in legal fees.

The court case involved a court-ordered “bonding study” conducted by an animal behaviorist and a videotape, “A Day in the Life of Gigi,” showing the dog spending time with Ms. Perkins, who was ultimately awarded sole custody.

It has been reported that there has been a 27% increase in pet-custody cases over the past five years, with 20% of respondents citing an increase in cases where judges had deemed pets an asset in a divorce.

Pet custody is not limited to just dogs and cats. Owners of exotic pets — including an iguana, an African grey parrot, a python, and a giant 130-pound turtle — have been involved in disputes.

Current Pet Custody Legislation

I’ve written about pet custody issues before. Alaska became the first state to enact a pet custody law. The law allows a court to consider the animal’s well-being. The measure, which defines animals as a “vertebrate living creature not a human being,” took effect in January of this year.

Currently, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in Rhode Island which is very similar to the law of Alaska which was enacted this year. The Rhode Island bill requires judges to “consider the best interest of the animal” in a divorce or separation.

The Times article also notes the popular theory that pet custody battles flare when there are fewer or no children in a family, and pets have become the focus of a couple’s emotions.

Historically, judges in divorce cases have gone through the same steps in determining pet ownership as they did with property. They figured out which property belonged to the couple, how much each piece was worth, and whether some agreement was in place about who got what.

Florida Pet Custody Law

Florida doesn’t have pet custody or visitation laws. Florida courts are already overwhelmed with the supervision of custody, visitation, and support matters related to the protection of children. Accordingly, Florida courts have not or cannot undertake the same responsibility as to animals.

A chocolate lab may be considered a member of the family to you, but under Florida law, your dog “Brownie” is just personal property to be divided in divorce in Florida.

Not all states have ruled out a visitation schedule for dogs. For instance, while Texas also views dogs as personal property, in one case a Texas court authorized visitation.

The New York Times article is here.